Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica are building new convention centers to be opened in 2014, a major effort that aims to achieve a good slice of the cake that is convention tourism.
Panama is building its new center in the Amador Causeway, along the Pacific and around the capital. It will have 15,000 square meters for the display area – it can hold 3 events at once, three times the previous capacity of the Atlapa center, and its final cost ranges from $120 to $150 million.
In Colombia the International Convention Center in Bogota is being built, an estimated investment of about $140 million. This is a building of 24,000 square meters which will have an auditorium for 4,000 people, 15 large and medium scale rooms, a food court for 2,000 individuals and 2,200 parking spaces, reports Elfinancierocr.com.
For its part, Costa Rica plans to build a convention center which is 15,000 m2 big, with an exhibition hall measuring 6,000 m2, three times larger than the Ramada Plaza Herradura. However, construction has been stopped because of the annulment of the award of the contract by the Controller.
On average, each person attending a convention injects $300 per day into the Panamanian economy, for accommodation, shopping, food and transport.
According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), since the beginning of last year up until now there have been approximately 200 conferences in the country. The conventions in 2012 alone generated for the country between $45 and $50 million in foreign exchange.
The act of holding conventions in Panama has intensified areas such as transportation, lodging and shopping, and its contribution to GDP is projected for this year at $32 million.
According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), the IX World Congress and celebration of 50th anniversary of the World Missionary Movement's work, held at the Figali Convention Center, generated 20,000 room nights and provided $5 million.
Tourism businessmen created the Central America Bureu to promote the region as a business tourism destination.
Roberto Robles, director of the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (Inguat), explained that CAB will ‘simplify, foster and promote the regional integration of policies and activities to strengthen this industry’.
With an investment of $6.5 million, the City of San Miguel will host the second largest convention center in the country. It will have a capacity of 1500 people.
The building is an extension of the Tropic Inn Hotel which belongs to Sociedad Turísticas de Oriente S.A.
The first four floors of the building - which took two years to construct - will used as a parking space for 250 vehicles.
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