Canal tourism sets record. Panama-Colombia ferry now open – Weekly News Roundup, October 31st.

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Welcome to the Panama Weekly Offshore Roundup! Panama Canal has banner year. Local artist wins global prize, and the trans-continental ferry opens for business. Here’s the latest.

Panama Canal has banner year for tourism, drawing in nearly 1 million visitors.

The Canal celebrated 100 years just a few months ago with state visits from international delegates, concerts, and parades. But that’s not the only reason the Canal Authority has to celebrate. This year (so far), Panama has officially received around 963,000 visitors, breaking the single-year record for tourism to the area. This is great news for Panama, who hopes to unveil the newest extension to the canal within the next two years.

“This is the largest number of visitors received at the Panama Canal in a year,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. “This highlights the waterway’s potential as a tourist attraction.” This new record represents a 9.6 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2013. Of the total amount of visitors, 70% were foreigners and 30% Panamanian citizens.
The Miraflores Visitor Center received 82.5 percent of the visitors, while the Gatun Visitor Center and the Expansion Observation Center, both located in the province of Colon in the Atlantic side of the waterway, received 8.5 percent and 9 percent, respectively. In 2004, the Panama Canal opened the Miraflores Visitor Center to tap the tourism potential of the waterway. Since then, renovations were made to the Gatun Visitor Center and the Expansion Observation Center was opened in 2012.

Source: Port News



Panama man takes top prize in Nikon Small World photography contest

Panama has a growing arts and cultural scene, and it’s great to see one of its artists gain some international recognition. This past week, Nikon announce that the winner of thier “Nikon Small World” photography contest was none other than Panamanian Rogelio Moreno. The contest was for microphotography, exploring the finer beauty under the microscopic scale.

Moreno began taking photomicrographs in 2009 after completing the construction of his own microscope in his spare time. “I hope now it can inspire others as much as it has inspired me — to learn about science, to look closely and notice something truly amazing,” he told Nikon after the announcement.

Moreno finds his specimens in lakes in his home country of Panama. He paired the microscope he pieced together with a flash to freeze the rotifer’s movements. After hundreds of pictures he captured the perfect moment the specimen opened its mouth towards the camera.

Source: NY Daily News



Colón Port: Panama’s Free-Trade Experiment

The Port of Colon is Panama’s 2nd largest, and sits at the northern mouth of the Canal on the Caribbean side of the country. It is also one of Panama’s poorest areas, and bears a stark difference to its counterpart in the south, Panama City. But there are big plans for the future, and the potential for a booming trade industry boosting up the local economy are high. Here’s what they’re up to.

Surse Pierpoint, the new manager of the Colón Free Zone, dreams of a Panama without restrictions: open borders, entrepreneurship, economic freedoms, and above all, small government — a commitment the current president has yet to make. Pierpoint, who also presides over the Panama Freedom Foundation, explained his revolutionary Colón Free Port project during the Latin-American Students for Liberty Conference at Guatemala’s Francisco Marroquin University (UFM) on October 11.

Pierpoint participated in the Startup Cities panel at Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala. In June, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela appointed Pierpoint to head the Colón Free Port project. The initiative aims to expand the free trade zone to the rest of Colón and breath new life into this historic port city and its inhabitants.

Source: Panam Post



Colombia-Panama Ferry Finally Opens for Business

After a much-anticipated debut, Ferry service from Panama to Cartagena, and up the Caribbean coast has opened, after a nearly 20-year drought. The Ferry, called Ferry Xpress, kicked of services late this October, and plans on cornering the market on budget sea travel between the continents.

Ferry Xpress is owned and operated by a group called Colon 2000. The company, which had previously done a trans-continental ferry in the 90s, is rejuvenating the route with a new boat, and new business plan, and looking to take advantage of a booming tourism market between Colombia and Panama. The ferry brand is called “Ferry Xpress” and the ship, “Adriatico”, was built in Norway, and operated for nearly 30 years in Europe, before making its way down to Central America to start its new route.

The ferry is scheduled to make regular departures from Colon, on the northern end of the canal, to Cartagena, Colombia, and Bocas del Toro, in the northwest of Panama. The standard fare for one person to Cartagena will be $99 each way for a seat, around $150 per person in a cabin of four people, and $400 per person for a suite.

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About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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