Panama’s Next Economic Drivers

While I revel in reports like “Paris Hilton, Michael Jordan, Mick Jagger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt can swim, take a walk and eat as any other tourist visiting the area, without being bothered by paparazzi, fans or the locals”, most of these are posted by developers and are of little truth or of any use as an economic driver of tourism here in Panama.

By far, the biggest driver for tourism will be the new international airports under construction here. Not unlike the boom of the Dominican Republic with seven International Airports or our neighbor Costa Rica with three, we will see development of new resorts, communities and business that will continue to transform this country. Unlike our neighbors, we have numerous other industries to bolster our economy and we are the leader of Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America right now. But let’s look at the aiport ingredient again and how it will impact our country. I reviewed an older study that is a little dated and of course economics of the world has changed but one thing remains constant, the markets and countries that I have mentioned above, are still experiencing a boom in tourism and investment related to it. Last year four million tourists visited the Dominican Republic. While Panama and Costa Rica report millions pass through their gates, in Panama, most are transient and do not stay in the country. The report covers the economic impact of one airport in Costa Rica. It is well written and shows the explosive growth and the socio-economic impact, both good and bad that came with it. Here is the introduction of the report on the Daniel Oduber International Aiport in Liberia, Costa Rica and the impact on the Guanacaste region.

Liberia’s impact on its local and neighboring communities has shown that infrastructure can, in a very short time, facilitate access, reduce transport times and attract very significant FDI flows, in the knowledge that many real estate developers seek closeness to international airports as a key variable for financial sustainability. The growth of Liberia’s Airport and the launch of regularly scheduled international flights gave a clear signal to national and international investors that Guanacaste was a mature (investment-grade) touristic destination.

Contributed by: Tom Brymer (tbrymer@brymerpa.com)
As seen in The Panama Perspective (http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com)