PANAMA’S capital city will more than double its current population during the World Youth Day (WYD) according to the administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Gustavo Him.
Him, sees the event for which President Juan Carlos Varela and First Lady Lorena Castillo actively lobbied Pope Francis during the last event in Krakow, Poland. as an opportunity to put Panama front and center as a tourist destination, and is currently in Rome beating the drum while ecclesiastical delegates are focusing on the religious symbolism of the event with the passing of a four meter wooden cross to representatives of Panama’s Catholic youth.
The presentation was at a weekend event titled "From Krakow to Panama the Synod
With the Youth ", coordinated by the Vatican team that finalizes organizational details of Catholic mega events.
Meanwhile Him had his own promotional team including dancers in traditional costume.
At , the headquarters of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, Him gave his tourism pitch: “It is going to be an event that will give us the opportunity to exhibit the benefits of Panama before the world. This is an occasion of unique tourism promotion in life, which will relaunch the country as an international holiday destination”
In his optimistic assessment of the benefits to Panama he gave some technical details relating to the week long inflow of hundreds of thousands of visitors including security, public health and transportation.
“We have an advantage, because our country is smaller than Where World Youth Day has been held before” he told La Prensa, but warned: “On the days on which this Catholic event will be held traffic will not be workable and therefore will be reduced.”
He said that one of the most obvious concerns in the previous WYD was the issue of transport and therefore we are focusing on solving this problem. We are also working to provide medical care to all pilgrims.”
“….It is the responsibility of the Church to organize the WYD, But the Government is its strategic partner.”
He told La Prensa that forecasts indicate that there will be about 500,000 pilgrims, “but I have a feeling that we are going to surpass that number. Panama has a strategic geographical position and that many Latin Americans will participate.”
Meanwhile local residents who traditionally flee the capital city during Carnival, may already be planning their WYD exodus.