Interview with Gustavo Him, Panamanian Minister of Tourism
The Central American country is the center of attention when the region’s tourist destinations are spoken of. With a varied product that includes history, the possibility of getting to know two oceans, its famous canal, an important gastronomy and an extensive commercial offer, it attracts millions of tourists every year, including those seeking to enjoy the Caribbean, because for them the proposal is also excellent.
This is how the destination is described by its current minister of tourism, Gustavo Him, who gave an exclusive interview to TTC during FITUR 2018, recently held in Madrid.
“In 2017 Panama launched its new campaign, which seeks to offer visitors a tourism of experience, adventure, in order to get the maximum benefit from our nature and everything the country offers,” he commented.
He added that with the availability of more than 20,000 rooms in the city, visitors can find a variety of opportunities from traveling in time through the Old Core, totally restored, or getting to know the modern city with skyscrapers, large companies and more than 13 commercial establishments, in addition to the Colón free zone, very visited by those wanting to make purchases. He advanced that in that locality there are plans to build a duty free zone to add facilities to the modality.
In that sense, Gustavo Him underlined that Panama has become a commercial hub for countries like Cuba, Central and South America, with accessible prices to the principal brand names from all over the world.
In relation to the Panamanian Caribbean, the minister highlighted that it has spectacular beaches and he gave the example of Bocas del Toro, the most renowned of the area where there is a good gastronomy, services and hotels, while guests can practice water sports like scuba diving, surfing, among others.
“San Blas is another of the paradises we have for nature buffs,” he said when referring to that archipelago made up of more than 350 islets that has also made the Panamanian Caribbean famous.
Gustavo Him referred to the Pullmantur cruise line, number one in Latin America, whose center of operations is based in Panama and offers routes that call at destinations like Cartagena, Jamaica, Nassau, Aruba, with one-week tours and highly competitive prices. Thus touring the Caribbean destinations can be a totally accessible dream from Panama.
The principal markets issuing tourists to Panama include the United States, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, Germany, Spain and Italy.
The minister specified that this year special emphasis is being placed on the European markets to attract more travelers, who are motivated to live a unique experience, full of adventure, options like sport fishing, golf, extreme sports and much more.
The presence in the FITUR 2018 Madrid International Fair was proof of this. During the event business meetings were held with executives of important companies related to the sector like the Spanish Air Europa airline and the Portuguese TAP – the latter is assessing a return to the destination – in order to increase the air connectivity with the Old Continent.
In 2017 Panama received 2.3 million tourists and for this year, Him said, it expects to reach the three million.
The country and its tourist industry are currently getting ready to host the World Youth Day (WYD) in January 2019. It is expected that the religious event will take to the Central American nation 200,000 visitors, headed by Pope Francis, who Him has assured the international media “is the best promotion.”
Another novelty that will soon call attention to Panama will be the inauguration of the Amador Convention Center, covering a surface of more than 58,000 meters, previewed for August 2018.
Thus Panama is boosting its tourism with all its force and is inviting visitors to live it intensely, that each one of them takes home the matchless experience of an adventure.