Copa Airlines, Panama’s Tourism Promotion Fund (PROMTUR) and the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) have launched a marketing campaign to support the Panama Stopover program, which encourages travelers to spend time in Panama on their way to other destinations.
The campaign will push the idea of “Two Destinations, One Fare” in the U.S., educating people flying through Panama that they can extend their stop in Panama for up to seven days without additional cost in air fare.
The program could provide a huge boost to Panama tourism if they can convince even a small percentage of the 6 million travelers a year passing through Panama to stay for a few extra days. The program could draw an additional 125,000 visitors to the country per year and contribute over $100 million annually to the Panamanian economy, officials said.
“We want to take advantage of the extensive connectivity offered by our Hub of the Americas to captivate leisure travelers in connection with Panama’s tourist attractions and cultural richness,” Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines, said in a statement. “For the Panama Stopover program to be a success, the joint efforts between both the government and the private sector are crucial in positioning Panama as a final vacation destination, significantly expanding opportunities for commercial and tourism development.”
The Stopover program is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2020. In the first phase, the program will be limited to Copa, but will eventually expand to KLM, Air China, Air Europa and the more than 25 airlines in the Star Alliance network. The program will include itineraries to or from any of the 80 destinations in 33 countries Copa Airlines serves.
Panama groups are working with travel industry representatives, hoteliers and tour operators nationwide to promote different aspects of Panama in the marketing campaign. The campaign is aimed at tourists from major U.S. cities interested in traveling to Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. “These countries are preferred Latin American destinations for Americans and offer similar tourist attractions to those of Panama,” the release notes. The program is also being promoted directly through travel agencies and Copa Vacations’ wholesale network in other South American countries.
“The depiction of Panama in this campaign is focused on unique experiences, showing images of nature (beach and adventure), history (culture and tradition) and the city (Panama Canal, nightlife and gastronomy),” Liriola Pitti, general director of PROMTUR, said in a press release. “Through these images, we highlight colorful landscapes that convey the warmth and joy that characterize Panamanians, and invite travelers to enjoy Panama’s various tourist attractions.”