Due to non payment of interest on an issue of corporate bonds to investors the Panama Stock Exchange is suspending trading of three bond issues by the Panamanian company RG Hotels.
On June 12, the securities issuing company reported in a statement that it is thoroughly analyzing its financial situation, and announced they will not pay interest to investors who bought corporate bonds.
Tourism companies have denounced underspending in the budget for international promotion of the country and assert that the official figures for hotel occupancy are not real.
Industry representatives argue that the hotel occupancy rate published by the Tourism Authority merely represents a sample of some large hotels in the capital ", while data from hotels in the interior of the country are not even taken into account in the statistics. Added to this problem is the low implementation of the budget for marketing tourism in the country. According to a report by the ATP, "... as of April 30, 2015, not a single penny has been invested of the $2 million earmarked for the development of Panama as a country brand."
While occupancy rates and average prices continue to fall, the Panamanian hotel market is preparing to increase its supply by another 1,200 rooms at the end of the year.
The Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) reports that in recent years there has been a 209% increase in the number of rooms available in the country, in contrast to demand which has only grown by 5% annually.
"Charging for the use of parking is a general trend in the country in buildings, hospitals and shopping centers," said Sara Pardo, CEO of Westin Hotel in Costa del Este. There they charge $4 Monday to Saturday for the use of parking lots, while on Sundays the service is free.
Incentives will be discontinued for the installation of hostels in the city of Panama, which have proliferated in areas classified as residential.
In Panama there are now 180 hostels, 61 of them in Panama City. While luxury hotels do not consider them competition, tourism officials want to discourage the creation of this type of small scale accommodation, which has emerged even in areas considered ‘exclusive’.
Given the increasing shortage of skilled labor, the tourism industry has made a request for the rules regarding hiring foreigners to be relaxed.
The president of the Hotel Association of Panama (Apatel), Sara Brown, said they are in negotiations with the Tourism Authority to introduce into the new tourism law being debated in the Legislature, a regulation that allows an increase in the percentage of foreign staff working in businesses related to tourism.
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