June Lunch: Panama: Challenges and Opportunities within the Tourism Industry
On 29 June the British Chamber of Commerce hosted an Executive Lunch around the topic of tourism in Panama. The country is going through a rather odd situation where the number of tourists in 2015 was at an all-time high, but hotel occupancy was just over 50%. However, in the latest data published, the number of tourists arriving to Panama has gone down, and hotel occupancy still remains at just over 50% (read more here).
Tourism has been an important part of the Panamanian economy, and is responsible for the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. It is estimated that this industry contributes to between 8%-10% of Panama’s annual GDP, which represents billions of dollars.
Our keynote speaker was Jennifer Champsaur, the Deputy Administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP). She spoke about 2015’s tourism statistics and about how ATP has participated in a number of international fairs to try and promote Panama as a tourism destination. She also made clear her administration’s policy of focussing on attracting business tourists- that is visitors that come to Panama for trade shows/conferences/conventions and remain to engage in tourism activities.
We also had a panel composed of Ms. Champsaur, Felipe Bonifatti from Lufthansa, and Christel Brandwagt from Bern Hotels and Resorts. The panel took a number of questions from the audience. However, many in the audience voiced their concerns over a number of issues, ranging from rubbish on the streets to poor customer service. In response, Ms. Champsaur clarified that this was a problem that originates in homes, and not something that could be addressed at government level wholly.
Be sure to check out the news article mentioning the lunch here!