Panama’s tourism numbers are growing, but it isn’t enough to offset the huge increases in Panamanian hotel construction.
Sara Pardo, president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels, told La Prensa that the 209% increase in the number of hotel rooms in recent years has far outpaced demand, which has grown about 5% annually during the same period.
In the interview, Pardo estimates 1,200 new hotel rooms are expected to become available in 2015 and that an “emergency plan” is needed to boost Panama’s tourism industry. She mentions private-public partnerships in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Colombia and proposes a similar partnership for Panama. She says that convention-based tourism should increase in the next two years, but that it will not be enough for a viable long-term solution.
According to a report from Panama’s Comptroller General, tourism spending in Panama increased by US$179 million in 2014, reaching US$3.23 billion.
According to Panama’s Ministry of Tourism, there are more than 20,000 rooms in 650 hotels in the country. 2014 saw large projects come onto the market, such as the 60-plus-story Hilton in Panama City and the 500-plus-room Hotel Riu in Playa Blanca, and 2015-2016 looks to bring more of the same, with some 14 new hotels planned for construction.