In the context of a fully-reopened economy and featuring an important ranking with regards to regional biosafety programs, Panama’s MICE industry backed the re-emergence of its meetings sector earlier this week through a hybrid-formated forum organized by the Meetings Panama platform and the National Tourism Chamber of Panama (CAMTUR).
The event, which was streamed from the Hilton Panama Hotel, was hosted by Ernesto ‘Tito’ Orillac, president of CAMTUR, and Patricia Puentes, general manager of Meetings Panama, both of whom welcomed an international audience eager to learn how one of the MICE destinations with the greatest potential for development in the region moves forward, even as most of the world still struggles with the effects of the Covid pandemic.
Four prominent figures of the industry were the panelists of the activity, which was divided into two blocks of presentations. The first included Fernando Fondevila and Eugenia Powell, director general and associate director of sales & Services, respectively, of Fondo de Promoción Turística de Panamá (PROMTUR), the country’s DMO.
Block 1: Promoting a country that emerged from the bottom of the ocean to change the world!
During his presentation, Fondevila emphasized the country’s “…eagerness to welcome people” as he shared the nation’s competitive advantages as a destination for international meetings and events, such as a dollarized economy, international aerial connectivity, and the tax benefits U.S. companies receive for hosting events in Panama, which is considered “part of North America” for tax purposes in such cases.
On her part, Eugenia Powell highlighted PROMTUR´s international marketing campaign, which focuses on the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe, and has adopted as a marketing hook all the unique experiences provided by the country, which, according to NASA Earth, emerged from the bottom of the sea three million years ago to “change the world” through the connection of cultures, natural settings, and markets.
Powell also stated that one of the tools PROMTUR is currently using is its Incentive Plan –opened to local and foreign companies that organize meetings or events with 100 persons or more (with 50% of their participants coming from abroad) and with 10 persons or more (with 75% of participants hailing from outside Panama), among other requirements.
2nd Block: Good news for Panama’s MICE industry!
The forum’s second block encompassed the presentations of CAMTUR’s Ernesto Orillac and Luis Ricardo Martinez, president of the Panamanian Association of Professionals in Congresses, Exhibits, and Related Activities (APPCE).
Orillac, who presides over a guild of 15 tourism-industry related organization, centered his participation on a long list of positive news for the country’s MICE sector, which includes the announcement of the allowed capacity for MICE-industry events with the backing of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP).
Orillac stated, “We are optimistic, not only due to the reopening of the MICE industry but also for the entire tourism sector, which generated 4.5 billion dollars in income for the country in 2019. What stands behind this is Panama’s control over the virus and the lowest infection rates the country has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Our recently-expanded Tocumen International Airport has received accolades for its biosecurity measures, and the world is starting to notice that the healthy measures Panamanians have adopted, such as mask use, social distancing, and the washing of hands, are yielding positive results, thus fostering the reopening of the economy two months ago. We cannot ignore in this regard the most recent report by the PHO, which mentioned Panama as having one of the best vaccination campaigns in the Americas.”
Luis Ricardo Martínez, president of APPCE, the country’s main MICE-sector organization, joined Orillac at the forum to provide details on a campaign the entire industry needs to be proud of: “Panama Best Practice”, which was launched amid the uncertainty of the early days of the pandemic to promote the adoption of international biosafety standards by all members of the value chain.
“If we were to mention all those who have participated in this initiative, we certainly would not end soon. We wanted to show that in Panama we do things right, and we made it”, Martínez concluded.
Visit: www.meetingspanama.com and follow us @meetingspanama