Drop in demand for local hotels
PANAMA. The dry season is here and with it the radiant sun and the summer breeze, all of which coincide with school and university holi...
PANAMA. The dry season is here and with it the radiant sun and the summer breeze, all of which coincide with school and university holidays.
Many families see this backdrop as an ideal opportunity to take a vacation outside Panama City, to one of the many provinces across either coast. While away, many take advantage of the summer packages hotels across the country offer.
In 2007, before the financial crisis erupted, these plans had to made with months of anticipation, as immediate availability of rooms was unheard of.
But now the scenario has changed, and reservations can be made a few days in advance, despite this being hotels’ high season.
La Estrella surveyed two “all-inclusive” hotels, Decameron and Playa Blanca, as well as hotels in the city, the Marriott, Hotel Panama, and the Sheraton. All coincided in having available rooms for upcoming days and weeks.
Prices are also more affordable than in previous years, with hotel room prices range between $170 and $280.
According to tourism businessmen, during the dry season a year ago, costs per night in some hotels were over $300, with some reaching close to $400 a night.
Travel operators have also had trouble finding tourists coming from abroad.
“Hotel bookings have been manageable,” said Ana Royo, president of the Association of Tourist Operators, who mentioned that this year when the Home Port in Colon started operated, there was not a hotel saturation. The cruise ship port brings around 4,000 tourists that use the Atlantic coast as a point of departure.
However, for the president of the Panamanian Association of Hotels, Jorge Loaiza, it is too soon to claim that the financial crisis is hurting the tourism industry. “It is normal for the first days of January to include less traveling.”
According to a report by Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP), in 2008, 25 new hotels started operations, adding 561 rooms to the pool. Additionally, the ATP approved 96 more project for more than $3.534 billion which would increase male 19,179 more rooms available.
These projects are projected to start construction within six months, and to begin operations within the next three years.