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Panama as a Convention Destination. Panama is quickly becoming a place where internationally renowned singers and artistes choose to start their world tour. Last month a Panamanian delegation, headed by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) took part in the seventh edition of the “IBTM Latin America 2016” held in Mexico City, to promote the country as a convention destination.
The country already has two convention centers: Atlantico Pacifico (ATLAPA) and the Figali Convention Center. The new Amador Convention Center (CCA), which will be finished in 2018, could become a key part to achieve this objective.
The oldest venue, the Atlantic Pacific Convention Center (ATLAPA) which was built in 1978, is a great earner and from January up to August 2016 it generated over $2 million in revenue, doubling the amount it collected in 2015.
ATLAPA has become the preferred venue for all kinds of events such as congresses, conventions, artistic presentations, graduations, plays and national and international fairs. Around 160 activities have taken place up to August this year. However, it is expected that the months of November and December, will be even busier so that more than likely the dividends will increase by end of the year.
Currently, ATLAPA is being remodeled. 600 new seats were installed in the La Huaca Theater. The Anayansi Theater has been completely restored and six dressing rooms will be renovated shortly. The Ibacuet Room, which a capacity for 350 people has been incorporated into the rest of the event areas.
Figali Convention Center, with a capacity for 10,275 people, has become the preferred venue for musical stars such as Katy Perry, Prince Royce and Carlos Vives. It was built in 2003 as the main venue for the Miss Universe 2003 Pageant, which took place in Panama that year. Since then, it has been used mainly for concerts and sports events, such as boxing and ice skating.
The Amador Convention Center now under construction, will cost $193.7 million with capacity for 25,000 people. It will have special rooms for fairs and exhibitions. New technologies have been incorporated into the design, making the building more functional. It will also have bays for loading and unloading next to the exhibition rooms.
It will have a construction area of 58,000 square meters, 30,000 of which can be used for different events. The new convention center will be three times bigger than Atlapa and will employ over 1000 people.
In addition to these conventions centers, others will be built in the interior, as a way to boost tourism in the Azuero Peninsula and the Chiriqui province.
The congress and convention industry generates four times more revenue than recreational tourism, according to a report made by the Tourism World Organization.
Panama has great advantages over other destinations in the region, such as its dollarized economy and air connectivity, with direct flights to North, Central and South America as well as Europe and the Middle East.