Tourism promotion incentives to cruises are extended until 2021
Executive Decree No. 274 establishes tourist promotion incentives for passenger transport vessels (cruises).
The Tourism Authority of Panama ( ATP ) details that through this modification, the incentive period of 100% reimbursement of the transit toll through the Canal to cruise companies whose base port (home port) is in Panamanian territory.
The decree that modifies Article 1 of Decree No. 35 of June 12, 2019, grants a tourist promotion incentive to cruise lines that establish their base port in Panamanian ports, with the reimbursement of the payment of the toll corresponding to a transit by canal route, for each operation carried out by the cruise company with a base port in Panama, according to the current rate established by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) the toll payment is reimbursed in 100% to the cruise ships that travel by water from November 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, explains the ATP in a statement.
It adds that according to the new decree, the benefit of reimbursement of the cost of transit through the Canal will be defined by a table of percentages and according to the date of operation of the cruise, which must verify that a minimum of 80% of the passengers embarked are international.
The reimbursement or the funds would be provided by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) to the cruise lines that receive the incentive, upon establishing their home port in Panama. The return on investment is justified based on the fact that an average passenger stays 2 days in Panama, according to statistics from Pullmantur's base port in Colón, in recent years. A single operation of a 2,500-passenger cruise ship would represent a direct economic injection of $ 1.75 million to the country, based on the average spending per tourist of $ 232.00, according to the Comptroller General of the Republic. To this would be added the provision and supply of products made by the cruise line, as contemplated in the previous modification made, through Executive Decree 73 of February 6, 2020, adds the ATP.
The head of the MICI, Ramón Martínez, indicated that the decree will be an important support to achieve the reactivation of the tourism sector and therefore the economy, since “having cruise lines with their base port in Panama, tourists will have the opportunity to know the country before disembarking or embarking the cruise; they will be able to go shopping, taste the exquisite Panamanian and international food, stay in our hotels, among other activities, which will boost the economy and create jobs.
Administrator of the ATP, Iván Eskildsen, said that the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025 recognizes great potential for the development of the cruise product, both for mega-cruises, especially as a base port, and for small cruises , and the places most benefited by this type of visitor could be the Gulf of Chiriquí, the Pacific Veragüense-Coiba, Gulf of Montijo Mariato, Pedasí-Tonosí, Las Perlas, Sambú and Guna Yala.
The small cruise segment would support the vision of turning Panama into a world-class sustainable tourism destination. For this subcategory, Panama is an exotic, unknown, little crowded and authentic destination, and it allows us to explore our coasts in greater detail and, therefore, distribute the impacts along more destinations, Eskildsen highlighted.
It is worth mentioning that for cruise operations carried out during 2022, 90% of the reimbursement will be recognized, in 2023, 80% and in 2024, 70% of the cost of the Canal toll.