The tourism sector drags a decline that has led to layoffs, decrease in services and products; as well as, in other regrettable cases, the closing of companies.
This is only the result, on the one hand, of not addressing tourism through state policies that transcend government administrations, that do not lend themselves to the vagaries of a learning curve every five years, and the implementation of experiments that , although with good intentions, they do not always have the desired success; in short, sticks of blind.
On the other hand, it is also the consequence of the lack of positioning of Panama as a tourist destination.We lack a value proposition of the destination that is presented within the framework of a communication strategy, which gives continuity to the message of a product whose attributes have been defined and are maintained over time. Currently, target markets do not really understand what Panama is like as a destination; They do not have a clear picture of what we offer.
Against this background, from the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama has been raised within the axis of Competitive Economic Growth of its project Agenda Country 2019 – 2024, concrete actions in the short and medium term that contribute to the reactivation of the tourism sector, which not only generates hundreds of thousands of jobs, but also has a multiplying effect on other sectors of the economy with a large capacity for employment and export.
In the first instance, it must immediately resume and give support to advertising to promote Panama as an international destination and ensure resources so that the Joint Tourism Promotion Fund can execute its action plan with a minimum budget of $ 20 million per year and, in the long term, give continuity to the strategies.
In addition, with the creation of this fund, in the short term it is necessary to redefine the mission and structure of the Tourism Authority of Panama; professionalizing the institution and that it focuses on the implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, which promotes private investment in new products and lead the creation of a culture of service in the country.
This requires a fundamental restructuring of this authority, which must be endowed with the necessary resources. At the same time, the ATP must define and manage its daily relationship with the Mixed Fund for Tourism Promotion, where criteria are unified so that the product developed is consistent with what is promoted. It is imperative that both organizations work in harmony and with common goals.
On the other hand, in the medium term, Tocumen International Airport should be used to the maximum to promote Panama as a destination among the more than 10 million passengers that transit this air site annually.
From Agenda País, we propose the development of experience areas that allow travelers to experience Panama within our main international airport. Areas of expertise designed by specialists, where the traveler in transit can experience the Darien jungle or the Bocatoreña Islands. All this, with the purpose that, in its next travel decision, Panama occupies the first numbers in its lists of options.
Similarly, the creation or development of new products and attractions that complement the national tourism offer should be encouraged. From the perspective of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, this can be achieved by presenting clear rules for private companies – ‘same level playing field’. As well as develop a program of loans and incentives aimed at stimulating the development of specific areas and activities; like, infrastructure and product.
In short, these are some of the proposals that we consider in the short and medium term can ignite the engine, with a view to this industry being presented as a long-term option for the Panamanian economy. It is time to put on our long trousers, to provide tourism with resources, vision and suitability and to position ourselves as a permanent and non-transitory destination for the holiday tourism and incentive markets; as well as congresses and conventions, to name a few.