Chris Grad - Sep 17, 2018

Tourism experts in Panama claim that travelers prefer to visit other places such as Colombia, which is 30% cheaper than Panama. Due to expensive services, the country loses its competitiveness in the tourism industry.

Coming to Panama for sightseeing or any other tourism-related activities is not attractive to visitors who explore the rest of the region and realize that the country is not as cheap as they believe.

Michell de Guizado, president of the Panama Association for Travel and Tourism Agency (APAVIT), confirmed that the country is too expensive and is not attractive for many tourists.

She highlighted that Colombia is 30% cheaper than Panama, which greatly affects the industry.

From January to June of this year, a total of 1,267,956 visitors entered the country, a 2.8% decrease compared to the same period in 2017 according to data submitted by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP).

The ATP report details that, in Panama, the average stay of a visitor is about 8 days with expenditure of $2,032 per stay on average, which is roughly $254 every day.

Armando Rodríguez, president of the Panamanian Hotel Association (APATEL), agreed with Guizado and added that tourism industry in Panama is the only one in the region that did not grow. According to him, the reason are several years of poor tourism promotion.

“Because of the costs of visiting Panama, tourists prefer to go to other destinations that are cheaper and attractive,” he pointed out.

A report from the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) details that ticket price suffered a significant increase of 15.6% from July 2017 to July 2018. However, it decreased by 14.2% in July compared to the month of June.

Meanwhile, tourism packages also show an 8% increase between July 2017 and July 2018. The restaurant and hotel service have also been affected by the situation, showing an increase of 2.9% for the same period.

According to Michell de Guizado, the figures of the Comptroller's Office reflect the reality that the tourism industry in Panama currently experiences.

She stressed that the ticket sales volume has decreased, since the situation is not positive, but the price still continues to increase.

Guizado also mentioned that the increase is largely explained by the fact that there is no competition in prices. “The airlines raise and lower the price of the tickets whenever they want, which is affecting the sector,” she said.

In recent years, the tourism industry has contributed more than 10% to the country’s GDP.

The restaurant and hotel service add up to 2.5% of GDP, and generate 104,528 jobs, according to figures released by the Comptroller General of the Republic.

Some experts point out that the numbers are not that bleak as they may seem. Many tourists spend more on average than the visitors in other countries. Panama last year generated 4,451.4 million dollars with the arrival of 2.5 million tourists, while Colombia reported 5,700 million with 6.5 million tourists.

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  1. We are into our 12 Th day in Panama
    4 days in PC 3 in Elle Bal Antonand now in Boquete
    The first thing you need to know is everything is in US dollars. This is a problem for Canadian s Aussie’s and the like. Couple that with high prices for lodging and food ( more expensive than most US cities) and you have an expensive holiday
    Then you must know everything costs money
    20 bucks to see the canal, $5 to walk to water falls or hike even $5 to go to a park if you are a tourist
    Panama has downloaded all costs to tourists so beware
    The people are amazing and relaxed so don’t expect any service but do expect them to ask for a tip before during and after the meal in spite of any level of service given
    There is great potential for great tourism here however there is great competition for the tourism dollar
    A competitive environment the Panamanian people in the industry will not win when it is so clear there is no value here compared to so many other options

    Bruce Clarke (Afghanistan)

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