Panama’s US$1.2 million investment in Central America Travel Market pays off

Panama’s US$1.2 million investment in Central America Travel Market pays off

The Ministers of Tourism of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – unveiled the region’s tourism strategy for 2012 and other new developments at a press conference held at the VIII Central America Travel Market (CATM) in Panama.

At the event, 2012 was declared “The Year of Sustainable Tourism” for Central America.  Other key priorities for next year include the promotion of the region’s rich Maya heritage and archaeological sites in the countdown to the beginning of a New Age in the Maya calendar, and the development of a new website for the region.

Salomon Shamah, Tourism Minister of Panama, said the country’s US$1.2 million investment in hosting this year’s CATM had paid off with a successful event which generated a high volume of business between Central American suppliers and visiting buyers from Europe, America and Asia.

Another main announcement came from Iberia, revealing that the frequency of direct flights between Madrid and Panama will increase from four to five a week, with a new flight on Mondays, adding 25,000 extra seats from January 2012.  Iberia currently operates daily flights to Costa Rica, four flights a week to Guatemala and El Salvador, and four weekly flights to Panama.  Besides, Iberia’s code-sharing with TACA Airlines allows connections to all other Central American countries.

The number of foreign visitors to Central America increased by 4.7% during the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year.  European visitors were up by 8.9% with a total of 413,664 tourists compared to 379,838 in the same period in 2010.

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