Temas Especiales

16 de Jan de 2021

Nacional

Curbing clandestine hotels

PANAMA. The half year report of the comptroller’s office reflected a curious phenomenon on touristic activity.

PANAMA. The half year report of the comptroller’s office reflected a curious phenomenon on touristic activity.

While the entrance of tourists decreased by 2.7 percent -a continued negative trend- the daily average of occupied rooms plunged 9.3 percent. So, where are the tourist sleeping? Solomon Shamah, general manager of the Tourism Authority (ATP) said that clandestine accommodations are the cause of the unequal balance.

Investors are finding creating ways to make business with apartments they haven't being able to sell and are renting them furnished as temporary accommodations.

Jorge Loaiza, president of the Hotels Association (APATEL) said “this is a completely unfair and illicit competition”. He also said theapartments do not pay the 10 percent tax charge levied on regular hotels and that they do not guarantee security requirements.

Shamah said the ATP will meet with the Housing Ministry representatives and members of the tourism and construction sectors. The ATP will propose an agreement that gives a chance to the real state industry while protecting the formal hotel industry.

The formula the ATP will propose works in two ways: tourism and horizontal property. The housing ministry will regulate temporary rents over 45 days and the ATP will oversee the accommodations lasting 45 days or less.

“We will not allow staying in apartments as hotel accommodations” he said. Hotel owners are not the only ones unhappy about clandestine accommodations. Apartments owners are less than thrilled to have strangers coming in and out of their buildings.

“One day I saw five people with luggage coming out of a van and entering the elevator.

“A few days later they were gone and another set of five people were in”, said an apartment owner in a new Bella Vista tower.