Panama: convention magnet
Panama is expecting 2.2 million foreign visitors this year, a 10 percent increase on 2011. But more progress is on the way for the nation's tourism industry.
Almost alone in Central America, Panama is carving out a niche as a major international center for business meetings and conferences.
This year, Panama is to host 126 business events, almost double the number of 2011, and the sector seems poised to grow further.
Last week MITM Americas, the annual Meetings and Incentive Travel Market, was held in Panama. MITM has a proven track record of attracting events and those who took part in the gathering were extremely impressed by Panama's facilities.
Though not strictly a business event, the Iberoamerican Summit, to be held next year in Panama, is sure to debate issues of importance to companies throughout the region.
The $190 million Amador convention center, which has a capacity of 3,500 participants for events, is schedule to open in 2015.
Meanwhile, hotels, many of them four- and five-star, with conference rooms, are opening in Panama at a rate of new fewer than 20 a year.