Panama City, Oct 19 (EFE).- The Panama Convention Center marked its grand opening Tuesday by hosting the 27th annual conference of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), which brings together the region’s largest cruise lines.
“I am happy to share with you this inauguration of the Panama Convention Center, strategically located at the (Atlantic) entrance to our canal,” Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo said.
“For us this celebration represents regional recognition of Panama’s regional leadership in the hemisphere’s struggle against Covid-19,” he said.
More than 100 executives from 22 cruise lines are taking part in the conference.
To encourage cruise lines to make Panama a home port, the government of the Central American country is offering rebates on the fees paid to transit the Panama Canal.
Panama’s “constant effort” to maintain its attractiveness as a cruise destination made it the rightful venue for the annual conference, the FCCA’s president, Michele Paige, said.
The convention center, built over the course of nine years at a cost of $208 million, can hold 25,000 people and is seen by officials as a potential spur to recovery from the pandemic, which reduced Panamanian gross domestic product by 17.9 percent in 2020.
“It’s a segment we are betting on as one of those that can most quickly help reactivate our economy and the one that can most quickly fill the nearly 20,000 hotel rooms that exist in Panama City,” Tourism Minister Ivan Eskildsen told Efe.
“An event that fills the (convention center) to capacity with spending of $1,000 per traveler, at a minimum, that’s a nearly $25 million injection for the country in a single event,” he said. EFE adl/dr