Home Special Guest Kenelma Mendoza: “The meetings industry is essential for Panama, cause it...

Kenelma Mendoza: “The meetings industry is essential for Panama, cause it promotes tourism and increases hotel occupancy”

Panama has always been a meeting point for thousands of people throughout its history, allowing events to be held that attract thousands of Visitors. From the largest business meeting in the region such as Expocomer to the most global youth meeting such as World Youth Day held in 2018, both are example of Panama’s potential to attract thousands of international tourists. For this reason, the President of the Panamanian Association of Professionals in Congresses, Exhibitions and Related Industries

(APPCE), a professional of great influence in national tourism and with a Certification of the global program of the International Congress and Convention Association, is our Special Guest for this edition. Her 27 years of experience in the congress and convention industry make Kenelma Mendoza the ideal person to share with The Visitor-El Visitante her analysis of this tourism segment that generates employment and boosts the economy to a large extent.

How important is the conference and convention segment in a country’s economy and how does it help to boost the rest of the tourism segments?

“The meetings industry segment is fundamental in the economy of a country, since not only generates direct income through the organization of events, but also promotes business tourism, leisure tourism, increasing hotel occupancy, consumption in restaurants, shops and additional tourist services. That is, it positively impacts the entire value chain.”

What is the current status of the events industry in Panama and what do the prospects look like in the immediate future?

“The meetings industry sector in Panama is experiencing significant growth, with a particular focus on attracting international conferences and conventions. Our DMO continues to work actively to position the country as a world-class destination for this segment. This includes efforts from both the public and private sectors.

A notable manifestation of these efforts is the Panama Association Hub (PAH), an unprecedented initiative in the region that positions Panama as a development center for international associations seeking to expand their presence in Latin America and the Caribbean. This innovative initiative, the result of a collaboration between the public and private sectors, was recently launched in June and arose from an agreement through which Panama became the only partner in Latin America of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Only four places in the world hosts an Association Center: Brussels, Washington DC, Singapore and Dubai. The PAH represents the first of its kind in the region, consolidating Panama as the main platform for the exchange of knowledge, innovation and holding meetings in Latin America and the Caribbean.*Source PROMTUR.

Another indicator is the Panama Convention Center, whose goal for 2024 is to reach 100 events. An important number in this industry.”

What does Panama require or need to develop to attract large-scale events such as those that the Panama Convention Center can host?

“To attract large-scale events such as those that the Panama Convention Center can host and strengthen our sector, a combination of strategic efforts is required.

It is important to continue promoting Panama internationally as an ideal destination for congresses and conventions, highlighting its competitive advantages, such as geographical location, air connectivity, incentive plan and cutting-edge facilities such as the Panama Convention Center.

As I mentioned, this is a public-private effort and in this sense Panama, through PROMTUR, actively participates in international bidding to attract important conferences. These actions are also carried out by professional conference organizers in Panama.

On the other hand, I believe that we should invest in the training of personnel involved in the meetings industry, from airport staff who have the first contact with the visitor, event organizers to service providers, this is to guarantee international service standards.

Strengthening alliances with international organizations such as ICCA, PCMA, MPI, UFI and Site to increase the visibility and attractiveness of Panama as a venue for major events. These collaborations can include the exchange of good practices for example, this also enhances Panama’s profile.

We cannot leave aside developing and promoting sustainable practices at events. This attracts organizations increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their activities.

To wrap up, it is necessary for Panama to have competitive rates to encourage greater participation in Congresses or events that take place in the country”.

What actions is Panama taking with other countries to promote congresses and conventions in Panama?

“In line with the strategy outlined in the Tourism Master Plan, Panama is projected into nine priority markets, covering the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France, and Germany. This strategic approach demonstrates the country’s ability to diversify its advocacy efforts and expand its global reach. For the year 2024, 38 international events have been confirmed, whose estimated economic impact amounts to about 38 million dollars. This figure not only represents a tangible boost for the Panamanian economy, but also underlines the vital role that international events play in the sustainable development of the tourism industry.*Source: PROMTUR.”

Photos courtesy: Kenelma Mendoza – APPCE

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