Posted on 2021-09-30
Panama launched this Thursday the "Panama Black Week", eleven days of commercial super offers, as an "experiment" in the midst of the pandemic to boost the tourism sector, hard hit by the health crisis and that will also open from Friday to receive foreigners to get vaccinated against covid-19.
"Before the pandemic, historically" the Panamanian week of super commercial offers "has been a campaign that has helped attract up to 20,000 tourists. This year is an experiment, as the confidence to travel is beginning to gain. There is no expectation or a specific number, but there are already tourists, ”the Minister of Tourism of Panama, Iván Eskildsen, told Efe.
From this Thursday until October 10, the main shopping centers in the country will have discounts and offers for customers within the framework of “Panama Black Week”, an event that has been held for five years.
This 2021 the event will last for 11 days to avoid crowds in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, which is now under control in Panama: it exhibits an average positivity of less than 5% and a downward trend in the number of new cases. daily as well as hospitalizations.
Neither the authorities nor the private company have an expectation of how many tourists will arrive in the country or how much profit the week of super offers will generate, but they “celebrate” the arrival of the first visitors, all from Latin American countries, despite not having made a strong campaign to promote the event.
"We do not have high expectations because there was not a strong international campaign, because until recently it was" that restrictions on mobility began to be eliminated. "But we did not want to stop doing an event like this, which in 2019 generated sales of 100 million dollars in 3 days," declared the president of the Panamanian Association of Shopping Centers, Nadkyi Duque.
Duque confirmed that “tourists have already arrived” and that “right now people from Chile, Costa Rica and Ecuador are making shopping tours. We hope they come from Colombia and other countries ”.
“Last week a charter company confirmed that it will be traveling from Ecuador to Panama, motivated in part by purchases and vaccination. Tourism companies with the intention of opening and reactivating themselves are taking these initiatives, ”added the Panamanian Minister of Tourism.
During a tour of the Albrook shopping center, the largest in the country and located in the capital, Duque said that he “bet” that this is a “measure that adds to the economic reactivation” along with other “events that are happening in this moment".
The aisles of the mall were already packed with potential buyers strolling around stores that sported huge signs with discounts and promotions.
The “Panama Black Week” starts this Thursday, the day before Panama officially opens the vaccination against covid-19 to tourists over 30 years old and with at least two hotel nights in the country, a pioneering measure in the region and which he hopes to stimulate the sector.
Inside the Albrook shopping center, there is an area enabled for the vaccination of tourists over 30 years of age, who have the option of being immunized against covid-19 with AstraZeneca.
“This has never been done: a vaccination strategy to attract tourists. We are the first country to do so in Latin America. It is an experiment, we have a period of three months to attract the expected number of tourists ”, Minister Eskildsen explained.
Hotel occupancy in Panama has not reached 10% so far this year, according to official data.
Tourism, which has contributed up to 4.5 billion dollars to the Panamanian economy, has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, which caused Panama's gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by 17.9% in 2020 .
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