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Betzaida Herrera is Miss Reef World

Another beauty crown for Panama

Betzaida Herrera is Miss Reef World
Betzaida was recently featured in the Panama edition of Soho magazine.

Betzaida Herrera is Miss Reef World
Panama’s Betzaida Herrera
is the new 2010 Miss Reef World.
Betzaida Herrera is Miss Reef World

Panama’s has won Miss Reef in Hawaii. Panamanian beauty Betzaida Herrera has been crowned the 2010 Miss World Reef after beating 10 other contestants on the North Shore of Oahu. Beyond the title, which will once again place Panama in the spotlight for its beautiful women, Betzaida wins her part of the $10,000 prize purse.

Regional Miss Reef contest winners from the Netherlands, Indonesia, Barbados, Peru, Argentina and the U.S. as well as from Panama competed in the contest. After much deliberation, Miss Reef Argentina, Natalia Baccino, took third place, while Miss Reef Peru, Vanessa Tello, took second. Miss Reef Panama, Betzaida Herrera’s first place win granted her $5,000 and a guaranteed spot in the 2012 Miss Reef Calendar.

The contest can be viewed on-line at www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com.

Special visit for Britannica Day

UK Minister of State James Browne impressed with Panama Pacifico

By Jacob Ehrler

Special visit for Britannica Day
Visiting Panama Pacifico: British Ambassador to Panama Richard Austen, UK Minister of State
Jeremy Browne, Ian Livingstone and London & Regional Panama General Manager Henry Kardonski.

Panama received a visit from UK Minister of State James Browne for Britannica Day at the Bristol Hotel on Thursday, November 24. He was the keynote speaker at this important business forum that stimulates trade and investment between the two countries. He also toured the London & Regional property Panama Pacifico, accompanied by British Ambassador to Panama Richard Austen.

Panama Pacifico is an impressive multi-use project that offers fiscal advantages for multinational companies as well as residential properties in a massive planed community. It is located on the the former US Howard Air Force Base across the the Panama Canal from the capital city.

“What’s going on at Howard is a remarkable and ambitious project,” said Minister Browne upon returning from a Wednesday visit to Panama Pacifico, “and there’s a real energy around moving it forward.” Browne viewed the master plan with property mogul Ian

Livingstone and general manager of London & Regional Panama Henry Kardonski and then toured the expansive grounds.

Special visit for Britannica Day
Green areas are designed to flow throughout Panama Pacifico.

“From the top of Telegraph Hill,” he said, “you can see that the progress shown on the model is really taking shape.” This is Minister Browne’s first visit to Panama. He commented that the city’s captivating skyline looks like Hong Kong, and was impressed with all of the construction that is taking place.

Britannica Day is a yearly business event organized by the Panamanian British Business Association (PBBA) with valuable information for investors. It showcases British companies with presence in Panama and Panamanian companies in the UK. Panamanian Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Jose Domingo Arias was also a keynote speaker at the event which covered three themes with discussion panels: “Current Trends in Financial Services”, “Why Panama is Open for Business” and “Panama’s Future Economic Outlook”.

A reception was held at the residence of British Ambassador Richard Austen on Wednesday, November 24.

A message from Focus Publications Int., S.A.

Successful edition of The Visitor in London

Successful edition of The Visitor in LondonAt the Panama Tourism Authority stand in London, behind the counter: Director of Marketing Lic. Nathalie Tesone, Communications Chief Lic. Magda Moreno, Tour Guide Gilberto Almancia and International Events Coordinator Astrid Lopez.

Focus Publications INT. wishes to extend our appreciation to our advertisers for their immense support and those who participated with us in the Special Investment Edition of The Visitor – EL Visitante newspaper that was distributed at the World Travel Market 2010 international fair in London. The event took place from November 8 to 13 in England for tourism professionals who received the special edition of this newspaper as well as Focus on Panama tourism guides. Other copies were left with the Panamanian Embassy in London, as a reference and informational support for those interested in learning about our country.

The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) stand was located in the Americas pavilion at the fair, and showed Panama as a world class tourism destination. The private sector participated by offering the different things to do in the country. Among them are: Ancón Expeditions, Bern Hotels & Resorts, Chame Bay Boutique Hotel,Panama Trails, Eco-circuitos Panama, Gray Line Panama, Decameron Hotels, Panama Crow Vacations, Margo Tours, Playa Blanca Resort, Sheraton Hotel & Conventions Center, Turista Internacional, Veneto Gran Hotel y Focus Publications. Our representative at the fair was Ms. Patricia Puentes from the Marketing and Sales Department. All that were present offered the best of Panama to the visitors of the fair.

Successful edition of The Visitor in LondonPatricia Puentes of the Marketing and Sales Department at Focus Publications, distributes copies of The Visitor and Focus on Panama to visitors to the Panama stand at the World Trade Market fair in in London.

The delegation from the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) was headed up by the Advisor to the General Administration Lic. Ernesto Orillac and the Director of Marketing Lic. Nathalie Tesone, who held important meetings and interviews with tour operators, wholesalers, travel agencies and communications media who were all interested in Panama’s growing tourism sector, such as Travel Weekly, EFE News Agency, Hfu Reisenhofer from Real Travel magazine, Andy Hoskins of Selling Long Haul, ABTA Magazine, Ms. Pippa Jacks, TTG, and others.

Other representatives who participated are: Lic. Magda Moreno the Communications Chief, Astrid Lopez the International Events Coordinator, Gilberto Almancia, Tour Guide and cultural representatives.

Panama’s airline grows

Another ten Boeing planes for Copa

Another ten Boeing planes for Copa
The Boeing 737-800 Next Generation.

Copa Airlines, subsidiary of Copa Holdings S.A., announced this week the signing of a rental contract for ten new Boeing 737-800 jets, five of which will be delivered in 2011 and the other five in 2012. This brings the airline’s total of airplanes on order to 33, all of them the same model of Boeing jet.

“These leases represent an new push for our expansion plans and they give us the opportunity to strengthen our regional leadership even more as a connective point”, commented Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines. “This new fleet acquisition coincides with the awaited finalization of the expansion of Panama’s Tocumen International Airport, increasing our airport capacity by over 50% by mid 2011.”

The new jets will have a design characteristic called Boeing “Sky Interior”, with new modern lateral panels and new curtains, offering passengers a new flight experience. At the same time, the new jets are more efficient, with an estimated two percent reduction in fuel through a combination of design and motor improvements in the new models.

The Boeing 737 Next-Generation is the newest and most technologically advanced in its class. It flies higher, faster and farther than previous models and other airplanes that it competes with. The cabin has the latest in liquid crystal display screens and capacity for new communications systems, according to a press release from the Seattle-based airplane manufacturer.

The lease contracts for the ten planes were signed with three different companies: GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS, 5 units), BOC Aviation (3 units) y Aviation Capital Group (ACG, 2 units).

“Hands of Stone” to be filmed in Panama

Gael García Bernal will play Panama’s legendary boxer Roberto Durán – Al Pacino still to confirm participation

Gael García Bernal
Gael García Bernal.
Roberto Durán
Roberto Durán.
Al Pacino
Al Pacino.

Mexican actor Gael García Bernal will play Panama’s legendary boxer Roberto “Hands of Stone” Durán, an ex world champion of boxing and beloved Panamanian figure. The biography-style movie will be directed by Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz, according to the digital version of Variety magazine.

The website also sustained that Al Pacino is very close to accepting th depart of trainer Ray Arcel, and that Spanish actor Óscar Jaenada is already confirmed to participate in the production, though his role has not yet been defined.

The movie, that will be called “Hands of Stone”, will be filmed in Panama and New York and will be mostly in English. The film has a 15 million dollar budged and is produced by Ben Silverman and Paul Webster.

“I am excited that Gael will be playing Roberto Durán. This is a story that is going to make a big impact”, said Silverman.

Jakubowicz, who wrote the script, will also act as as a producer. Roberto Durán’s son, Robin Durán, will be an associate producer.

Roberto Durán made his professional debut in 1968 at the age of 16 and retired in 2002, at age 50. In June of 1980 he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard and was crowned champion of the welter weight category. When it was time for the rematch in November of the same year, he surprised all that were watching the match when he returned to his corner of the ring and said his most famous phrase “no más”.

Expats organize food and supply drive for orphanage at El Rey

Food and supply drive for orphanage
Esté atento a la oportunidad de ayudar a un orfanato en los puestos
de supermercados El Rey en la ciudad este fin de semana.

If shopping at the El Rey supermarket over the next two weekends, you may encounter some expats who will invite you to donate part of your purchase to the Malambo Orphanage. Expat volunteers have banded together to work shifts at the Calle 50, El Dorado and Albrook locations of El Rey supermarket on upcoming Saturdays and Sundays: November 27 and 28 and December 3 and 4.

The non-profit organization behind the food and supply drive called “Besitos de la Mariposa” (Butterfly Kisses), is dedicated to helping children in need at the “Hogar San Jose de Malambo” orphanage in Arriján. Representatives say that it is easy to participate, by simply adding a few items from a list that they will provide upon entering the supermarket, like formula, detergent and other basic necessities.

Volunteers are being accepted to man stations at supermarkets throughout the holiday season.

To make a donation in person, the items can be dropped off at: Pan y Canela (Ciudad del Saber), Super Gourmet (Casco Viejo), Chic Papier (Bella Vista), Panama Sol Realty (Coronado Mall), Promises (San Francisco), Dgriss Art Gallery (Edif Torres del America), Auto Shine (Via Porras) or Bhappy (Calle Israel).

Monetary contributions may be made by deposit to the general fund for the San Jose de Malambo Orphanage at Banco General, account number 03-06-01-000724-2.

Besitos de la Mariposa organizes a quarterly food and supplies drive direct to the orphanage. Volunteers bring the children-much needed items like diapers, soap, sugar, rice and beans. For more information visit www.besitosdemariposa.org.

New boat, new instructor at Panama Sailing School

New boat, new instructor at Panama Sailing School

Panama Sailing School, an American Sailing School (ASA) certified sailing school in Panama City and Bocas del Toro, has announced that “French Kiss V” is returning to Panama for six months of cruising and use for the VIP Cruising Groups.

The school has also added another certified captain and instructor from the United Kingdom starting in December for the next six months. Lee Daniels has extensive knowledge and experience in sailing, racing and instruction in the UK, Australia, USA and Canada. For the past five years Lee has been an instructor in Antigua. His arrival makes him the third internationally accredited instructor at Panama Sailing School. Visit www.panamasailingschool.com.

Australian Ambassador meets with compatriots

Australian Ambassador meets with compatriots
Ted James, editor of the weekly
shipping newspaper The Bulletin,
Australian Ambassador to Panama
Katrina Cooper and Bob McIntosh,
regional representative of Miller’s Oil.

The Australian Ambassador to Panama, Ms Katrina Cooper, recently made a periodic diplomatic and business visit to the country from her base in Mexico City. She took the opportunity to met members of the Australian community at a pleasant happy hour exchange at the Sushi Bar of the Radisson Decapolis Hotel.

Australian Ambassador meets with compatriots
The Aussies in attendance pose for a photo: Ted James, Annabel Franco, Rebecca Smith, Daryl Ellis, Steve Magaric, Yari de Magaric, Richard Paterson, Kylie Ellis, H.E. Katrina Cooper, Naomi Judge, Clint Walton and Bob McIntosh.

Nikki Beach’s official opening

Nikki Beach’s official openingOne of Nikki’s currently open properties, showing a glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle that the Nikki brand is famous for.

Nikki Beach Hotels and Resorts, is a luxury brand of properties, clubs and hotels known for an elite clientèle. Panama’s long-awaited Nikki project on Playa Blanca is almost ready to open up. The $30 million Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Playa Blanca is on Panama´s Pacific Coast, about 75 miles west of Panama City. Its 230 guest rooms, including deluxe rooms, suites and penthouses, will exude the brand’s taste for luxury, leisure and a party atmosphere all mixed in one.

The resort with, its 100,000 square feet worth of pools, private cabanas, live entertainment and food and drink areas will open its doors on December 20. The big opening party, however, is expected to be celebrated for the New Year. To find out more contact Destiny Real Estate at 204-5757 or write to info@destinyrealestatepanama.com.

Pullmantur offers eight day all-inclusive cruise from Colón 2000 in Panama

Last month, the Spanish cruise line Pullmantur began offering a new “Antilles and Southern Caribbean” route from its new home port at Colón 2000. Through June of 2011, the Ocean Dream will call in to port in Panama every Friday.

The new route includes an itinerary of eight days and seven nights with stops in ports at Cartagena de Indias and Santa Marta in Colombia, Aruba, La Guaira in Venezuela and Curacao.

Aboard the Ocean Dream, there is “all-inclusive” service including unlimited beverages and exotic cocktails. The “Family Plan” invites children up to 16 years of age to cruise free when sharing the cabin with adults.

The cruise, designed to target the Latin American market is also enjoyable for Spaniards, with a Latin atmosphere and Spanish-language service.

Visit www.pullmantur.es.

Isthmian Update

Some of the news in Panama

Colombian granted asylum
The daily La Prensa reported that last Friday, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, former director of the Department of Administrative Security (DAS) of Colombia was granted territorial asylum by the Government of Panama, which continues to generate criticism both inside and outside of Panama. Former Colombian judge Cesar Julio Valencia, who chaired the Colombian Supreme Court in 2007, when Hurtado was in charge of the DAS, charged that “granting her asylum is an inconceivable act because Hurtado is being investigated for common crimes, not political ones.”

Panama flag on oil rig
With the flagging of an oil drilling platform in deep water of the Gulf of Mexico, called GR-Centenario, Panama explores the possibility of flagging these structures that represent a business of approximately $7 million. The flagging ceremony was held last week in Mexico in the presence of executives of the company Grupo R de Exploración Marina de México and representatives of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).

Peruvian company in Panama
Panama continues to attract companies looking to expand in the region. The Peruvian recruitment company Amrop announced that it will install itself in the country, with an investment of $1.5 million. The company already has a presence in most South American countries.

MEF at Ultra
The daily Panama America reported that the office of the President of the National Journalism Council (CNP), Guillermo Antonio Adames, said the Omega Stereo radio station (98.9 FM) was taken over this week by auditors from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

More news >>

FTA with USA in 2011
The daily El Siglo reported that Panama must wait until the first half of 2011 when the United States can create a greater dynamism to promote ratification of the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) between the two countries. This is even though Panama has complied with labor law changes and and a tax information agreement to comply with the US strategy to bring the three treaties (Panama, Korea and Colombia) to Congress for ratification.

Cruise ships from Colón
With more than 2,000 passengers aboard the cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas of Royal Caribbean line sailed last week from the cruise port of Colon 2000. This cruise ship and the Ocean Dream, of the Spanish chain Pullmantur, are some of the ships that set sail for cruises of seven days from the Panamanian Caribbean port.

Growth economy
Panama’s economy maintained a growth rate of 6.56% during the years 2008 and 2009, when the global economic crisis intensified with more force.

Promoting science and health with the Dominican Republic
The ministries of health of the Dominican Republic and Panama, represented by ministers Bautista Rojas Gomez and Franklin Vergara, respectively, signed an agreement to promote scientific programs, health and academics through training health personnel in both countries. There will also be scholarships for poor students to study medicine and its specialties.

Commerce Minister in Washington
US Congressman Joseph Crowley received the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Roberto Henríquez, in Washington. The minister used the meeting to promote ratification of the trade promotion agreement (TPC) between the US and Panama. He also met with representatives of major US companies, with whom he shared aspects of investment in Panama.

Preparation for Hanta virus season in central provinces
With the arrival of the harvest (dry) season in Coclé and central provinces also come rodents, which are a danger to people, especially those living near farms and grain storage facilities for crops such as corn and rice. These places are ideal for the mouse which carries the Hanta virus. Some 100 health officials, epidemiologists and vector control experts met in Penonomé to participate in launching the campaign to prevent and control the Hantavirus.

Panama to support Cuba’s economic reform
Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela said Panama is ready to support the economic reform process that Cuba is beginning, providing technical assistance grants for training companies and cooperatives. Varela reiterated that the country will maintain its support in international forums because it is a situation that will determine the future of the Cubans.

Claiming money for Noriega
Panama will have formalized this week a suit in France to collect one million euros in compensation being claimed after the French courts sentenced former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panama’s diplomatic sources said. “We want the French to pay us”, sources stressed to Reuters, which stated that the application will be processed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

$580 for Metro Bus drivers
The consortium Panama Mass Transit presented its final proposal for a base salary for drivers who will operate the new transportation system Metro Bus: $580. The proposed increase of $100 to $480 offered by the consortium in the beginning was viewed with surprise and annoyance by the drivers who were invited to the conference.

Construction sector still growing
The construction sector will close this year with growth of between 3% and 5%, said the president of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC), Jaime Jované. “We continue to grow, although not to the levels of previous years and this is positive given the global financial crisis. We are very pleased that Panama is still growing, in comparison to what is happening with the other countries of the region,” he said.

Salary law
The Government anticipates amendments to two articles of the Tax Code in order to reduce tax evasion. The payments made for expenses of representation will not exceed 100% of salary. That is, a person may not have more income from representation expenses than in salary.

Good economy discussed in Geneva
Panama is one of the few economies that were not affected by the global recession and financial crisis and also maintains steady growth. This was announced by Investment specialist BSI bank in Geneva, Switzerland. Diego Caballero Yanez said that these are extremely positive signs.

Beer tax hike to pay elderly pensioners
The daily La Critica reported that part of the increased pay for pensioners announced by President Ricardo Martinelli could be found in a tax increase that comes from the sale of beer. This is because the Government is still searching from where it will get the funds, so a tax increase on beer is the strongest option, according to an official source. Currently, the tax for both liquor and beer is 10%.

Chiriquí hydro snuffed
The daily Panama America reported that the hydroelectric project on the Chiriqui Viejo River in Chiriqui, which had been awarded to the company Ideal Panama, owned by the son of Carlos Slim, was declared illegal by the Third Chamber of Administrative Litigation of the Supreme Court. The judge of the Third Chamber, Victor Benavides, nullified “as illegal” two resolutions issued by the Public Services Authority (ASEP).

Building on the bay in Juan Diaz
According to the daily La Prensa, there is approval to build a residential project in the mangrove bay in Panama Bay beyond Juan Diaz. The daily reported that the project already has the approval of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM). In light of violation of existing national rules that had declared the area a protected area and a wetland of international importance, an ANAM official justified the adoption on the grounds that it is a protected area that “does not have a management plan.” In these cases, he said, the plan of the private project is accepted.

New benefits at Panama Pacifico
National authorities and investors participated in the launch of the new benefits offered by the Panama Pacific Special Economic Zone in Howard. It included a tour of the facilities of the area and the integrated system of procedures that seeks to promote the attraction of new businesses to the project. The users and business operators that locate there can handle matters within the jurisdiction of various State agencies.

Postal workers do not want to go private
Post Office workers are alert to the possibility of privatization, although they reject this action which is being sought by the Ministry of Government. In the general meeting held over last weekend, the Association of Post Office Employees (ACOTEL) said they agreed with modernization, but do not accept privatization.

Cooperatives growing
The cooperative sector has grown steadily over the past three years, despite having spent years challenging the global financial crisis. The 521 cooperatives that exist in Panama handled in total, $400 million in assets.

Banking loan figures
Banks operating in the local market with a general license have paid out $12,521.9 million in new loans at the end of September, representing an increase of 9.9% compared with December last year. In absolute value it is $1,130 million more than received from various economic activities in the country at the end of the third quarter, according to data collected by the Superintendence of Banks.

Two new casinos
The Gaming Control Board (JCJ) endorsed the opening of two new full casinos in Panama City that will join the 16 already operating in the country. One of these two new casinos is the Gold Lion Casino in El Dorado.