By Duncan Mcgowan
A delegation from the Panama Tourism Authority is participating in the International Tourism Fair of Guangzhou this week, the group’s first major event to promote Panama to Chinese tourists.
The government is clearly wasting no time in making Panama a destination for Chinese travelers since diplomatic relations were formally restored in June. A 10-member delegation is representing Panama at the Guangzhou event, reported Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.
“We are going to make a very visual presentation with… videos on what our country offers in nature tourism, rural tourism, folklore, culture, gastronomy and everything else,” tourism minister Gustavo Him told the agency.
Air China is scheduled to begin direct flights to Panama twice a week, with a stopover in Houston, starting in March, Xinhua reports. But the direct flights should just be the beginning, as Panama develops as the gateway for Chinese travelers to visit the region.
New routes can be developed connecting Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba and Colombia, Him told the paper.
“Due to its strategic location, Panama automatically becomes a gateway to the entire region,” Him said.
According to the minister, talks have already started to develop those new routes.
“We really like the multi-destination aspect, and are in fact initiating discussions with different places to see how we can create this destination and offer different products,” Him said.
Panama is a natural destination, Him told the Chinese journalist. “There is a very large Chinese community in Panama, so we know what their tastes are,” he said. “And I am also a Chinese descendant and know what they like and what their idiosyncrasies are.”
Meanwhile, in an interview in Dubai, Pres. Juan Carlos Varela said plans are moving forward to collaborate with China on a 450-km rail line that would connect Panama and Costa Rica.
“We hope to get Chinese companies and Chinese technology to complete the entire project between 2022 and 2026,” he told a reporter from Xinhua. “A railway connecting Central America could help to increase the flow of goods arriving from East Asia in Panama City.”
Varela is in the UAE to discuss trade, tourism and investment opportunities.
Image Courtesy: Capital Financiero