Panama has long been known as the “hub of the Americas”, and one of the most significant transportation and logistics countries in the world. Panama has some of the most international flights leaving and arriving (connections or otherwise) in the world, and certainly the region, with more being added every year. Panama also facilitates the world’s biggest ships, and plays a part in practically every facet of global, sea-based trade in the western hemisphere, especially cross-oceanic trade. This distiction, as the “hub of the Americas”, is more than just a marketing ploy, too. Panama’s role as a travel, trade, and logistics hub has both built its economy, and continues to help sustain it now and into the future.
Panama and Trade
Obviously, if you’re planning on moving to Panama, investing in Panama, or retiring to Panama, you’ve heard of the Panama Canal. But did you know just how important trade is to the small isthmus nation? Panama exports about $700 million worth of goods and services each year, while importing a staggering $12 billion. A quarter of all trade is done with the United States, with exports focusing mostly on food items, coffee, timber, and some metals. Most imports into Panama are on the industrial end, with oil and mineral fuels leading the way, followed by industrial machinery, cars, car parts, and pharmaceuticals. It’s estimated that the Canal, and subsidiary business that service the Canal, make up nearly a third of Panama’s entire economy. Buy any stretch of the imagination, that’s huge, and trade is the lynchpin holding this sector together.
Panama as a Travel Hub
Not only is Panama considered a hub because of trade, it’s also a huge commercial transportation hub. There are over 100 flights on around a half-dozen carriers that fly in and out of Panama’s Tocumen International Airport. There are more connections between North, Central, and South America in Panama than anywhere else on earth. This has built a strong national airline industry in Copa, and made Panama a popular tourist destination as well. Due to ease of travel with available flights, Panama has been promoting itself as a go-to destination for tourism in the cities and areas it once serviced by air as simply a layover destination. Now, rather than just using Panama as a hop to another tropical vacation destination, tourists are choosing Panama as their final stop.
It’s also not just about flights. Panama is growing its maritime tourism at a faster rate than ever, with cruise lines offering both Canal cruises, and using Panama as a destination stop during larger Caribbean cruises. On top of that, many smaller companies have made yacht and catemeran chartering a big growth industry in Panama, which is helping to diversify the market greatly. Panama is now one of the biggest eco tourism destination in the Americas, touting jungle tours, chartered boats, hiking, rainforest excursions, and educational trips for schools to learn about Panama’s immense biodiversity.