SAN JOSE – Panamanian Tourism Minister Gustavo Him said that his country is seeking to give a boost to the sector with a $20 million international tourism promotion fund and a possible alliance with Costa Rica to create a multidestination tourism zone and facilitate the exchange of visitors.
“Panama has had a lack of vision due to different administrative opinions, and the (aim of) creating the International Promotion Fund is to have a vision for the country regarding tourism. We’re seeking to establish priorities and have continuity over time,” said Him in an interview with EFE in Costa Rica.
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The minister on Wednesday wrapped up a visit to the neighboring country during which he met with his Costa Rican counterpart, Maria Amalia Revelo, to speak about the Promotion Fund, World Youth Day 2019 and the possibilities for bilateral cooperation to facilitate tourism to both countries.
“The Promotion Fund is going to be the best way to make a decision on what the markets that most benefit Panama are. We can say that the US is fundamental, Latin America, which has been our primary market, and we’re also evaluating the European markets,” he said.
Him added that with the recent opening of diplomatic relations between China and Panama, the Chinese market is also an objective and an opportunity to create “synergy” with Costa Rica.
“The tourists who come from so far away have a preference for having a multidestination (package) to get more out of their investment, and possibilities, risks and opportunities and, if it’s good for both countries, we can get started. Such a distant market is not easy, but it’s important to try and get new markets,” he said.
The cooperation with Costa Rica is also geared toward trying to facilitate the arrival of more Costa Ricans in Panama and vice versa, seeking attractive packages and taking advantage of the international airport at David, which is near the common border.
Him also emphasized the importance of World Youth Day in Panama on Jan. 22-27, 2019, with the participation of Pope Francis.
Last February, the Panamanian organizing committee officially launched the sign-up process and some 600,000 people are expected to come to Panama for the event, of whom about 100,000 will arrive by land through Costa Rica.
Another important activity for Panamanian tourism will be the Black Weekend on Sept. 14-16, a weekend of shopping discounts and concerts designed to attract tourism, mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean..
A total of about 2.55 million foreign tourists visited Panama in 2017, a 5.8 percent rise from the year before, and the aim is to hit 3 million, the minister said.