Panama City Panama's Cityscape (Credit: Panama Tourism Authority and Copa Airlines)

Panama’s Cityscape (Credit: Panama Tourism Authority and Copa Airlines)

QCOSTARICA  – While Costa Rica, the leader in the region, continues hedge Panama in the number of tourist visits, receiving 2.6 million visitors in 2015, compared to Panama’s 2.5 million, the southern neighbour had double the amount of foreign income.

According to, figures by Panama’s Comptroller General’s Office says visitors to that country spend US$4.171 billion dollars in 2015. Meanwhile Costa Rica reports only US$2.635 billion dollars in foreign income from tourism.

Also, Panama reports that almost half of its tourist arrivals came from South America, headed by Colombia (288,569), Venezuela (260.145), Brazil (88.348), Ecuador (74.043) and Peru (50.275).

Unlike Costa Rica with more than half of its tourist arrivals are from North America (U.S., Mexico and Canada), in Panama it represents only 24.1%. The rest is from Europe (13.6%), Central America (10.3%) and the Caribbean (2.3%).

But, not all is roses for Panama tourist. In 2015, Panama hotels reported only a 52.3% occupany rate. Hotels with 100 rooms or more reported a vacancy rate of 53.9%, while for smaller hotels, the situation was more critical. Hotels in the capital city (Cuidad de Panama), had their worst year since 2006

The overbuilding of hotel rooms between 2008 and 2012 is being blamed. Hotels also compete with rental apartments rented to tourists, although the country’s laws prohibits it.

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