PANAMA - Tourism
Former Minister, Tourism,
HE Jesús Sierra Victoria has devoted his career to the development of the tourism in Panama. He has degrees in Law and Political Science from Universidad Santa María La Antigua de Panamá and a degree in Hotel Management from Harbin University of Commerce in China. He received his law degree with an emphasis on International and Corporate law from the University of Texas at Austin. Beginning in 1990, he started working with the Panamanian government. Since 2009, he has been a member of CONEP (Concejo Nacional de la Empresa Privada), and in 2013, he was the President of the Panamanian association of Hotels (APATEL). He was appointed the Minister of Tourism in July 2014.
The Summit of the Americas was very important for the economic and political perspectives of Panama as it positioned our country as a hemispheric leader in the development of global dialogue. The main event and the additional economic and civil society forums created the perfect atmosphere towards the enforcement of relationships with the main players of different industries and governments, hence increasing awareness about Panamas business opportunities and collaboration processes. €¨
We are currently undergoing different strategies to bring more players in the airline and shipping industries to use Panamas logistic and transportation hub. There is a lot of interest from companies around the world to help Panama improve its connectivity. One of the strategies is to fulfill the development of co-op funds with airlines, which also helps to promote our country as a tourism destination worldwide.
Panama is one of the least known jewels of the world. Our natural treasures have been hidden from the public view for years. The Panama Tourism Authority is currently developing ecotourism products to bring more people to visit our natural rainforest reserves, which comprise around 30% of the territory of the whole country. This is one of the highest percentages of natural reserves in proportion to its territory of any country in the region. On the other hand, we are the only country in the world with a Biodiversity Museum. The museum tells the story, but the real museum is out in the rainforest and it is very alive.
What kind of incentives is the current government promoting to attract more FDI to the sector?
The Law 80, which regulates the incentives for tourism companies, gives tax benefits to companies interested in developing tourism in Panama. Land and income tax exoneration are some of the benefits which are stipulated as incentives.€¨€¨
MICE is a very important segment for Panama, due to the fact that Panama City has great hotel properties and event halls to offer to event planners. As a matter of fact, Panama has been ranked recently as one of the destinations with highest expectations of growth for the MICE segment. In the Panama Tourism Authority, we have a department exclusively dedicated to promote Panama as a MICE destination.
The Ministry’s top priorities for the year are to increase regional and global connectivity, improve awareness about the benefits and attractions of the destination, to develop more tourism attractions and products, to position Panama as a place where there is always something happening, whether it is concerts, festivals, artistic performances, and lastly, to increase direct foreign investment in tourism.
PANAMA - Economy
Country Managing Partner, Tax | Law Leader - Panama & Market Segment Leader Mexico – Central America, EY
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