Panama’s tourism sector is growing fast, and one of the biggest sub-sectors at the forefront of this growth is in international conference and events. From 2012 to 2014, Panama increased its conference attendance by 50%. And this is only counting conferences and congresses. If you factor in concerts and live music festivals, that number is actually much higher. Some of the major reasons for this surge are tied in directly with other aspects of the tourism boom, including an increase in available flights, hotel rooms, and event space. It’s also no secret that Panama is becoming a well-known destination for more affordable luxury travel; something that event organizers look for when booking major conferences.
In 2015 alone, Panama has already hosted two major beer festivals; a regional small business forum attended by world economic leaders, and one of the biggest EDM music festivals in the Americas. In April, Panama will also host the Summit of the Americas, which will be historic as it will mark the first time the US and Cuban presidents will meet face-to-face in over 50 years.
Why Choose Panama for your Conference?
It seems like an easy question to answer for those that live in Panama, but many may wonder, “why hold your conference in Panama, rather than Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Miami”? For bigger conferences and congresses in Latin America and the Caribbean, there are many great options. Traditionally, beach resorts on the Gulf of Mexico and Miami have been the two hot targets in the region. However, Panama is starting to take a big part of that market. One of the big reasons for this is the convenient and strategic location.
Panama has one of the busiest airports in the region and is an almost-perfect middle ground between North and South America. Panama also has lots of international direct flights, many of which connecting the biggest business centers in Latin America. On top of its logistically beneficial location, Panama also has lots of natural beauty that blends seamlessly into the backdrop of its biggest resorts and convention centers, many of which are a short drive from the capital in the beach area. In the city, there’s vibrant nightlife, modern conveniences, and world-class hotels.
Measurable Benefits of Hosting Your Event in Panama
On top of the visceral benefits of hosting a convention or congress in Panama, there are also some big financial bonuses that come along with it. For companies based in countries that Panama shares a Free Trade Agreement with, like the US, you can claim expenses in order to deduct them from your domestic taxes. This means, in theory, that you will pay less taxes in the US by holding your convention abroad, rather than staying in your home country. On top of that, the local hotel tax in Panama is far less than similar competitive locations, meaning that taxes paid in country will account for a significant savings as well.
Panama’s Going After the Market Aggressively
It’s not coincidental that conference growth is moving so fast, and the tourism authority of Panama (ATP) is a big reason behind the recent success in the industry. Over the past five years, the ATP has been aggressively targeting foreign companies and event organizers through an attractive ad campaign directed at drawing more people to the country. They have even gone so far as to offer publicly funded incentives for event goers, including a welcoming party for convention guests, cultural shows, and even local tours. The Panamanian tourism authority wants to represent the country as both friendly, and world-class, all the while dangling measureable financial incentives in front of businesses that make it tough to say no.