Panama just announced plans for a $200 million dollar convention center that will be built on the capital city’s waterfront, between Amador and El Chorillo. The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) is clear that convention and meeting tourism is a smart investment for the country, given that factors like the country’s strategic location, hub airport connectivity, lack of need for a US visa while still using the US dollar, rank Panama high in this niche.
To get the ball rolling, a special promotion to use the country’s current ATLAPA Convention Center has been put in place through an agreement with Copa Airlines. The ATP is offering free use of the convention center as long as an event promoter can bring in sufficient international attendees to fly, check in and experience Panama for a meeting, conference or convention. Organizers can save over $100,000 through this promotion.
ATLAPA can handle 10,500 attendees and has an impressive theater-auditorium that holds 2,800, all located close to major hotels and bordering with Panama Bay. But it is not Panama’s only facility that currently handles international meetings and regional conventions. Panama’s Conventions & Visitor’s Bureau lists 20 other locations ideal to host large events in its planning guide, available at www.panamaconventions.com.
Construction on the new convention center, scheduled to put Panama in the big leagues of convention tourism, should begin next year and be finished in 2013. The conceptual design released recently was completed by Skidmore Owings and Merril. The new complex s in line with the government’s plan to extend the Cinta Costera to Amador, giving easy access right from the airport to the convention center, which will also include hotels. For more information go to visitpanama.com.