Tourism in Panama

In 2013, the Tourism Authority of Panama (TAP) set a goal of attracting 2,250,000 visitors to Panama. That goal was easily exceeded as roughly 2,270,000 tourists made Panama their destination last year.

With its beautiful beaches, eco-tourism jungle adventures, rich history cultural history, and the highlight of the world-famous Panama Canal, it’s no wonder travelers include Panama in their itineraries. Here are some statistics behind their choice.

  • Most tourists visit Panama in December or January. March is the next most popular month.
  • Most visitors to Panama come from South America, according to the TAP. Columbia and Venezuela send the highest number of tourists.
  • The number of tourists from North America decreased by 12.1% in 2013, while European tourism increased by 15.4%.
  • The number of visitors entering Panama via the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City increased by 2.7%. Annually, Tocumen Airport is handling over 245 round-trip flights to North American destinations, 136 to Central America, 609 to South America, and 17 to Europe. Seven million flyers from 119 different countries pass through this airport each year enroute to their destinations.
  • 85% of cruise ship passengers travelling to Panama are American.
  • Panamanian cruise ship ports saw a 9.2% increase in visitors in 2013.
  • Other ports (those which also dock private boats) admitted 25.6% more visitors in 2013 than they saw in 2012.
  • Visitors entering Panama across the Paso-Canoas border were up by 2.6% in 2013.
  • Hotel occupancy for 2013 averaged 56.8% (a decrease of 4% compared to 2012).
  • Tourists stay in hotels an average of 9.3 nights and spend about $168 per day.
  • Tourist spending overall was up by 8.4% in 2013 compared to 2012.

Panama seems to be becoming even more popular as a cruise ship and boat destination. Entries via cruise ships and private boats saw the largest percentage increase against other modes of travel last year. That visitors can choose to board on ship could help explain why Panama’s hotel occupancy rates were lower last year despite its overall increase in tourism.

According to Jaime Campusano, president of the Chamber of Tourism of Panama, the current hotel tax in Panama of 10% is expected to go up by 1 to 2% in 2014. The revenue generated by this tax increase will be invested right back into the tourism sector.

Ongoing support for the tourism industry is just one more reason why Panama is already off to a great start to achieve its goal of 2,300,000 visitors in 2014!