According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Panama saw a 0.6% decline in total tourist arrivals in the first eight months of 2018, falling from 1,698,161 arrivals in 2017 to 1,659,419 in 2018. Of these 1,199,835 (72.3%) were stopover tourists, 239,036 (14.4%) were cruise visitors and 220,548 (13.3%) were day visitors.
The volume of air visitors entering Panama by Tocumen, its main airport, fell 0.6% from 1,192,394 in 2017 to 1,185,402 in 2018 while the volume of cruise visitors fell by 2.1%.
Average hotel occupancy for the first eight months of 2018 was 45.4%, down 4.8 percentage points from the same period of 2017. Panama has 10,200 hotel rooms.
Tourist spending increased by 3.4% from $3.216 billion in 2017 to $3.326 billion in 2018. Tourists stayed 8 days on average and spent $2,004 per visit.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.