July 11, 2011
World Surf Championships, Eco Tourism (finally), and Donald Trump stranded by floods in Panama! This month, we take a look at how a $14M investment will be used to preserve and promote Panama’s national parks. We also reveal why Pedasi real estate is now more valuable simply because of some surfers and the grand opening of our favorite project in Panama City. This is a Can’t-Miss Panama Equity newsletter.
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Economic Outlook for Panama
Solid GDP and new tourism initiatives
Panama’s economic activity continues to defy the world’s general economic gloom. This month, we saw two key figures released by the government. Following the explosive 9.7% first quarter GDP, and considering that the $5 billion dollar Panama Canal expansion will be in full swing by the 4th quarter, experts have revised their 2011 year-end GDP predictions to 9%. Private investment in hotels, commercial, office and private infrastructure will grow by as much as 11.6% and would be a further boost to an already super-charged economy. Service-sector exports including banking and business support services are also expected to grow by 10% this year. Panama continues to be THE shining star in the regional powerhouse that is Latin America.
In tourism news, a national commitment to develop eco tourism in several national parks throughout the country has been slated. Half-assed attempts over the last few years have left Panama far behind countries like Costa Rica, who have made great strides to accommodate the “off the beaten path” tourists. A total of fourteen million dollars will be invested to develop low-impact ecotourism and preserve the country’s nine protected areas. Thoughtfulness about a sustainable and eco-friendly future has always been a vision Panama has struggled with.
This initiative is a collaborative effort in which the IDB approved a donation of $4 million, plus an additional $10 million funded from the National Authority of Environment and Tourism Authority. $14 million will go a long way to install signage, cut trails, and develop new areas to explore! I for one am a big fan of the eco tourism route, and in Panama we have a huge advantage over places like Costa Rica, considering three of these national parks are little more than an hour’s drive from the cosmopolitan capital that is Panama City. If Panama is able to capitalize on its biodiversity (which it has not yet been able to do) it could be a huge factor in defining long-term success.
The tourism funds will be used to promote the conservation of biodiversity and sustainability in all of the main provinces (and coincidentally the most visited areas) including Bocas del Toro and the Provinces of Panama, Veraguas, Chiriqui, and Colon. Specifically the national parks are: Bastimentos National Marine Park, the La Amistad International Park and Volcan Baru National Parks, General Omar Torrijos Herrera, Darien, Sovereignty, Chagres, Altos de Campana and Coiba. The investment seeks to improve the efficiency of eco-tourism and increase revenue per admission of tourists and other expenses from $3000 to $5300 per tourist and is expected to yield an overall increase of 43,000 to 50,000 new visitors per year.
In other news, Panama’s new hotel infrastructure and convention-geared incentives are finally starting to bear fruit with what was just announced as the first of many large conventions this year. During the first few weeks of October over 4,000 climate change experts, country delegates, and the media descend on Panama for a weeklong meeting that will prelude the COP-17 climate change convention in Durban, South Africa.
ISA World Championship Tourney
All the good things they left in their wake
Greetings from Beautiful Pedasi, Panama! From June 25 to July 2, one of the most prestigious surfing events in the world, the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games, was held at our very own Playa Venao. The trophy went to the Ausies, but the real winners were the people of the Azuero Peninsula who saw full hotels, packed restaurants and some very crazy outfits by the surfers wandering through.
Arguably the biggest and most long lasting benefit of the competition was that the infrastructure that Billabong brought down to do their live internet stream broadcast will STAY in the area. That means that Playa Venao is fully wired with cell phone service AND high speed internet! Local businesses, including hotels from Tonosi to Las Tablas were full and restaurants saw a nice uptick in business during what is ordinarily our slow season. Real estate developers also reported some sales from event-related buyers.
Overall, the competition went off without a hitch and we congratulate the organizers and the local community for a job well done. The fact is that for a community (Pedasi is a town of less than 3,000) to pull off an event of this magnitude took a great deal of effort from a whole lot of people. The government of Panama, along with Billabong and a few other major sponsors also all had good things to say about the venue, which saw an unexpectedly large number of Panama City residents who also made the drive to be spectators.
Since the ISA games were televised internationally the whole region got some great press. Hopefully this will encourage more folks to come and experience Pedasi and Panama. See you soon!
High Profile Project getting delivered
Finally a five star in Panama!
It’s official! The Trump Ocean Club Hotel is now open! While the building’s common areas received compliments from Donald Trump (in attendance, along with President Martinelli) in reality the building is still about 3-4 months away from being fully operational and there are still quite a few kinks to be ironed out.
The opening ceremony was marred on Wednesday by some horrible weather that left the Punta Pacifica entrance under over 24” of water due to clogged drain lines caused by careless construction workers. The good thing is, Martinelli saw first hand the work that needed to be done unclogging the underground infrastructure, and you had better be sure that there were MOP (ministry of public works) trucks out there the next day rooting the pipes. Too bad they weren’t there on Tuesday!
Last week I published an article about the Trump project, which included my six month predictions for the project as well as a “what we know and what we don’t know” section. If you’re interested, you can find the full Trump Panama article link below. I was at the Grand Opening and got my photo with the Donald, congratulating him personally on a huge accomplishment! I was also curious as to how he planned to get out of temporarily-flooded Punta Pacifica!!!
You can find the full Trump Panama article here.
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