With COVID affecting last two Carnivals, Panama has high hopes.
- By : James Bryson
- Category : Local Culture, Panama Tourism
After two years on hiatus, this 2023 the Carnival festivities in Panama resume: shows, dances, music, algorical costumes -feathered and sequined-, parades of wagons, tunas, culecos and mojaderas.But beyond its appeal, Carnival is also a driver of economic dynamism. In Panama, historically, the carnival festivities or the god “Momo” have had a positive impact on the country’s economy. For 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic, it was estimated that the festivities left an economic spill of more than $300 million, according to data from the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) and more than 25,000 tourists (Europeans and Americans) entered, of which 8,000 stayed in Panama City and the rest moved to the interior of the country.During the four days of festivities, various sectors of the Panamanian economy benefit, such as: tourism, hotels, restaurants, commerce in general, transportation, gas stations, and others, and for this 2023 the expectations are favorable.“We value the impact that the activities of the most representative party in the country, the carnivals, will have. Our expectations of the effect in gross monetary terms is a little over $400 million”, projected the president of the College of Economists of Panama, Samuel Moreno.According to ATP estimates, for this year a movement of about $100.0 million is expected, which for the economist Raúl Moreira, in contrast to what Moreno says, could be multiplied up to about $300.0 million that would circulate within the economy. , which is “extremely positive from the economic point of view”.When stratifying the expected impact by sector, the also director of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec) highlighted that one of the sectors that benefits the most – especially with these activities – is the food industry, because the fact that many people move to different parts of the country will demand a lot of food.Another sector that benefits a lot is restaurants and hotels, in terms of lodging, because many people are going to have to rent homes or rent hotels, hostels, cabins to stay during these days, so there is also an effect there. important.When disaggregating, another sector that also benefits during these holidays is the liquor industry, that is, the sale of beers and the sale of liquors, as well as ice, that is, all the related part related to alcoholic beverages and also non-alcoholic beverages that are also in demand for these activities.Another sector for which a very significant impact is expected is fuel, both diesel and 91 or 95 octane gasoline. “There will be a significant incidence because many people are going to move either in their private vehicles, individuals or public transport or even air transport as well,” Moreno asserted.The sale of air tickets through various airlines is also expected, with the great component, in this sense, that there is also a great incidence in fuel for these aircraft. In the same way, the movement of many artists, box office in typical rooms, discos, PH, and different areas that are enabled in the most important centers of Carnival are expected.Moreno argued that, ultimately, many sectors will benefit from the Carnival activities, but above all, many businesses and informal industries will be generated, whose sales will permeate income to many families and the opportunity to take something home. in these four days of carnivals.However, the president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Camtur), Ovidio Díaz, and the former president of Camtur and founder of the National Tourism Convention (Conatur), Antonio Alfaro, although they acknowledge that Carnival is a party that injects many million dollars , puts the national economy to work, benefits the entire value chain at the tourism level, from the smallest to the largest, they are not very optimistic regarding their forecasts of international visitors during these days.They question that after two years of not having carnivals, the announcement that there would be festivities for the god “Momo” came very late – barely two months ago – and there has not been time to promote these festivities outside of Panama, which would allow bring people from abroad with fresh money, therefore “no” you can know how many people will come to Panama, specifically to participate in the carnival.In this context, they said that the Carnival, although it generates a very large economic impact, since it is a national event, the movement of money is local and does not bring fresh money. “Personally, I think that there are very few (people from abroad) who would come, specifically, to spend carnivals in Panama and that would be the income, fresh money, that the Carnival would really produce,” Alfaro asserted.In this regard, the former president of Camtur and founder of the National Tourism Convention (Conatur), Antonio Alfaro, reinforced that the economic impact of Carnival exists but is relative within the republic but not in Panama City.“There is a big movement but due to the fact that it is a local event and not an international one, it turns out that the money that is going to be spent on the weekend in Panama City is spent inside. Then the city and the empty hotels remain, because they go to the interior”, remarked Alfaro.For the former president of Camtur, in effect, the Carnival is an event that moves money within the country and helps a lot within the Republic, which “is good”, because this part of the country lives on seasonal tourism, of times, while the capital, because it is a business area etc., has more or less occupancy, but it has occupancy all year round.So, the real economic fresh is local, it is the movement of local money, it is not fresh money; and the reason is that it was announced just two months ago, that is, there has not been time to project abroad to advertise and attract attention to schedule trips, tours, etc., to bring people from abroad with fresh money, which would be ideal”.Díaz indicated that for these dates the largest number of visitors moves in the parts where there is Carnival: Las Tablas, Pedasí, Chitré, Penonomé, Los Santos, Gualaca, Santiago, but also depending on the places where you have sun and beach rooms ( …).”In these places, for this time of great demand, hotel occupancy is 100% and that is where more rooms are required,” said Díaz. While for Alfaro “there is a theme that is repetitive in Panama in all things and it is the lack of planning.”In the end, Camtur’s president criticized the fact that $2.5 or $3 million is granted to the capital’s carnival and only $10,000 to the Pedasí carnival, etc., for example, even when the dynamism generated by carnivals in the interior of the country is being observed . Carnival 2023 will take place from February 18 to 21.