A recent report from Panama’s General Accounting Office shows that tourism in Panama from January to April has grown compared to the same period last year.
The report shows that 2.395 million visitors arrived to Panama during the first four months of this year, representing an 8% increase from 2014. Of these visitors, 849,000 were tourists, a 5.8% increase from 2014. The other 1.546 million were in direct transit or were flight crew members.
The increase in visitor numbers was accompanied by an increase in spending as well. Visitors to Panama spent about US$1.29 billion during the first four months of this year, a 14.7% increase from the same period in 2014.
The faster rate of increase of spending compared to visitor arrivals means that not only are more visitors arriving, but they are also spending more on a per person basis.
The increased numbers should be good news to the hotel industry, which has suffered from an oversupply of rooms in recent years.
According to a La Prensa interview with the president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels, 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.
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, according to the Panama Tourism Authority.
The importance of tourism in Panama and the money it brings is underscored by the fact that it has become a major contributor to this country’s economy. In 2014, tourism revenue in Panama increased by US$179 million from 2013, reaching US$3.23 billion, surpassing revenue earned from the Panama Canal.