More Visitors and More Direct Flights to Panama
Positive signs for continued growth in 2013
Panama is gaining ground as a destination for international conventions and the convention traffic pipeline is filling up for next year. According to a recent article in Capital.com.pa, there are already 32 conventions planned for Panama in 2013, and estimates are that hotel occupancy will exceed 150,000 rooms, a 65% increase over 2011. This isn’t even counting visitors coming for the Panama Jazz Festival and the 2nd annual Panama International Film Festival, slated for January and April respectively.
No doubt looking to capitalize on the increasing demand for travel to and from Panama, last week, Air Canada, Jet Blue, All Nippon Airways, and Southwest Airlines all submitted formal letters of interest to the aviation authorities of Panama. Air France and Lufthansa have also both approached the airport board about establishing more direct routes to Europe. To see two low cost carriers showing interest in Panama is great news for anyone already living here thinking about coming down next year.
In other news, after years of dialogue and a targeted lobbying campaign, the US/Panama free trade agreement was passed last year and will came into full effect on Wednesday, October 31st. According to US trade representative Ron Kirk, “Under this comprehensive agreement, Panama will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, which will promote economic growth and expand trade.” Washington believes that the agreement will increase exports to Panama at over 12,000 million. In 2010 sales were the Central American country of more than 8,200 million dollars.
Expect prices on a wide range of products in Panama to be affected as more than 86% of U.S. consumer and industrial exports will enter Panama duty-free beginning Oct. 3. Nearly half of U.S. agricultural products, including high-quality beef, bacon, soybeans, wheat, barley and nearly all fruit and vegetables, will become duty-free.