World Youth Day and the visit by Pope Francis are now part of Panama history and officials are starting to weigh the impact on the country.
According to the head of the Panama Tourism Authority, Gustavo Him, the event attracted the most tourists to Panama at the same time in history. Staring on Jan. 23, more than 265,000 pilgrims and tourists visited the city, he told El Capital Financiero.
Simply looking at the numbers, the event could play a major role in boosting Panama tourism, generating coverage and Instagram posts around the world. More than 2,500 journalists covered the event and those writers were exposed to all the best parts of the city, he noted.
More difficult to measure is the impact of 60,000 pilgrims taking photos and talking about their experiences in Panama, Him told the newspaper. Panama was all over social media in countries around the world.
In the next few days, more detailed reports are expected, offering more insights into the financial side of the event. According to media reports, some sectors did better than others, as some Panamanians fled the city to avoid the crowds, offsetting the financial boost of the event.
But there is no doubt World Youth Day was a media success, beaming images of Panama City around the world. Most of the big activities were held on the Cinta Costera, the park system along Panama Bay, a picturesque setting that shows all the best sides of a waterfront city.
Panama also showed the world it could host a major international event. “We surpassed the expectations,” Him said.
Picture Source: JMJ Twitter Account