Panama must offer Chinese tourists more than beaches

Panama has to rethink its tourism model and offer more than sun and beach if it wants to attract more Chinese tourists following the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Asian country, said a Panamanian business leader.

“The Chinese have a different form of tourism and offering them beach and sunshine is not what they want, as they cover themselves a lot so they do not get burned.” Chinese people want culture and shopping,” said the Director of Economic Affairs of the Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (CCIAP), Manuel Ferreira.

Chinese tourists want culture.

Chinese tourists want culture.

Ferreira, who participated as a speaker at a congress on credit in the Panamanian capital, said that “we should not be so optimistic with the arrival of Chinese tourists because Panama’s offer is very focused on beach tourism and Chinese culture is averse to the sun, he said.

On June 13, Panama established diplomatic relations with China, a decision unanimously praised by all sectors of Panamanian society, as the Asian country brings together 20% of the world’s population and has a significant presence in Panama.

China is the second largest user of the Panama Canal and the first supplier of the Colon Free Zone, the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located on the Panamanian Caribbean coast.

Panamanian Tourism Minister, Gustavo Him, recognized on the same day as the establishment of relations between both countries, that the industry has “many expectations” and expects a “very important” arrival of tourists from China.

Tourism represents approximately 10% of Panama’s gross domestic product (GDP) one of the most dynamic countries in the region.

The country experienced economic growth of 4.9% in 2016 and 6.2% in the first quarter of this year, according to official data.

The government has acknowledged that the tourism sector is experiencing certain “difficulties”, a situation that the hotel industry blames on an oversupply of rooms and the delay in launching an international tourism promotion campaign, which finally began last January in digital media in the USA, Spain and Canada.

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