Will Chinese Tourists Come to Central America?

Businessmen from the Panamanian tourist sector welcome the arrival of Air China flights in March 2018, but consider it will be a challenge to attract a type of tourist that seems to prefer very different destinations than those offered by Central America.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

In a region which for many years has specialized in serving North American tourists and more recently Europeans, preparing to provide the attention demanded by tourists from China will be a challenge, according to the Panamanian tourism entrepreneurs themselves.

See: "Flights between China and Panama"

The fact that Panama is becoming a hub for air connections with the Asian region does not mean that the tourism industry is prepared to receive the type of tourist which has characteristics that are very different from the tourists that Panama and Central America are used to receiving.

Prensa.com reports that "...According to representatives from travel agencies in Panama, Chinese tourists are still discovering Asian countries and are venturing into European countries such as France and Italy, but attracted by luxury brands. According to official data, 54% of Chinese, who visit the French capital more than British and Americans, intend to go back to Paris within two years, compared to 71% of other nationalities."

"... Another characteristic of Chinese tourists is that they prefer to stay in three and four star hotels, especially those that offer free internet."

"... Beyond being a center for air connections for the Asian market, Panama must work on a plan to attract Chinese tourists, who at the moment are not interested in beach tourism or ecotourism, which are the country's strong points, said Ernesto Orillac, president of the Panamanian Association of Tourism Operators."

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More on this topic

Interest in Bringing In Chinese Tourists

June 2018

Fifty seven travel agencies and Panamanian tour operators submitted their applications to the ATP to be included in a list of companies authorized to do business in China.

The requests that were received by the Tourism Authority were sent to the Panamanian Foreign Ministry, so that these in turn can be sent to the Chinese authorities. This means that all that remains is for the Asian country to grant approval so that these tourism businesses can start to negotiate with Chinese wholesalers.

Tourism: The Chinese Tourists Panama is Waiting for

April 2018

It is estimated that about 40,000 tourists will come from the Asian country, and in 2019 this figure could rise to 200,000.

The arrival of Air China's first flight to Tocumen represents a new opportunity for tourism entrepreneurs in Panama to reactivate the sector and increase hotel occupancy, which has not exceeded 50% in recent years.

How to Attract More Tourists to Panama

May 2017

Private companies and the municipality of Panama City are developing a plan to offer tourist activities in the capital to passengers who are in transit through Tocumen airport.

While tourism and hotel operators are still looking for alternatives to improve the sector's sluggish figures, the municipality of Panama intends to develop a plan that encourages passengers who are waiting for connections at Tocumen airport to go out and visit some tourist attractions in the city. Routes related to religious tourism, others focused on the history of Panamanian athletes who are famous worldwide and thematic shows that show how life was during different periods of Panamanian history, are some of the ideas that have been suggested so far.

Panama Wants to Attract More Spanish tourists

January 2012

Out of all Europeans, the Spanish are among the most frequent travelers, and therefore, the authorities are intensifying efforts in the Iberian market.


The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) is stepping up its efforts to promote the country as an attractive tourist destination and persuade more Spanish people to travel there instead of going to Guatemala, Costa Rica and Cuba, Spain’s favorite destinations in Latin America.

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