Tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, which caused the gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by 17.9% in 2020 but Panama expects to receive 1.8 million tourists this year while trying to recover the sector's pre-pandemic figures, the Tourism Authority (ATP) said Friday.
"We are talking about 800,000 people until the month of June, and we are aiming at the projection of 1.8 million visitors" to close the year, the ATP administrator Ivan Eskildsen, told reporters.
In 2022, "the recovery efforts of the sector are advancing in a very positive way", since "the figures reported by the Comptroller's Office as of June is four times the number of visitors from last year and already very close to the levels of visitors of the year 2019," said Eskildsen.
"In January 2022 we were still 45% apart from what we were in 2019, but in June we are already 15%, the gap is narrowing."
Tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, which caused the gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by 17.9% in 2020, the year in which Panama received 70% fewer visitors than in 2019, according to the World Organization of Tourism (UNWTO). In 2021, hotel occupancy did not even reach 10%.
The improvement this year is due to tourism for conventions, meetings, and congresses in Panama, although the country seeks to position itself as a green tourism destination like its neighbor Costa Rica.
"We are advancing to position Panama as an attractive venue for its connectivity and the new convention center, it is exceeding expectations, there is talk of more than 72,000 visitors this year (...) which has helped a lot to reactivate the hospitality industry in the city", concluded Eskildsen.
The ATP and the National Chamber of Tourism of Panama (Camtur) announced this Friday the sixth edition of the National Tourism Convention (Conatur), which will be held on October 25 and 26