In the race for growth between the number of tourists arriving in Panama, and the supply of available beds, the latter is winning, and it is estimated that it wont be until 2016 that the current occupancy rates are achieved again.
An article by Alex Hernandez in Prensa.com reports that "the occupation in the capital will decrease from 70% in late 2011 to 38% in 2012 in hotels of over 100 rooms, according to estimates from the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel).
The percentage decrease is attributed to there being 6,000 new rooms available which is much more than the demand, even though the number of visitors grew by 10% during the first half of the year.
Among the hotels already under construction and which will open next year are the Megapolis (2000 rooms), the Renaissance, of the Marriott chain on 50th Street (300), the Panama Hilton (351), the Waldorf Astoria (126), Garden Inn (170), and Hyatt Place (167), among others.
Between 2010 and 2014 a total of 10,000 new rooms will be available in the capital city, making about 18,000 hotel rooms in the province of Panama.
After the fall, we will have to wait until 2016 to regain the occupancy levels recorded at present, said the president of Apatel, Sara Pardo. This year approximately 4.6 million tourists are expected to visit Panama. "Growth in the hotel industry has been rapid, despite the fact that the number of tourists arriving every day is not enough to fill rooms that are exist now" he said.
Back in the early months of 2011, employment in the capital city reported a decrease of two points compared to the same period last year. Apatel reports indicate that the average price in the capital has been reduced by five dollars, indicating that hotels are feeling the entry of new competitors.
While occupancy rates and average prices continue to fall, the Panamanian hotel market is preparing to increase its supply by another 1,200 rooms at the end of the year.
The Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) reports that in recent years there has been a 209% increase in the number of rooms available in the country, in contrast to demand which has only grown by 5% annually.
During the first seven months of 2012, occupancy was down 7% compared to the same period in 2011, while the figure for July 2012 was 14% lower than in July last year.
The number of visitors to Panama has not decreased, so the decline in the number of occupied hotel rooms is explained by the continuous addition of new hotels, with beds being added that end up unoccupied, especially in the Panamanian capital.
More rooms on offer will mean a 50% occupancy rate for hotels in the coming year.
Just this year over 600 rooms have joined the market with the openings of various hotels like the Trump, Victoria and Hilton Doubletree.
Hotel industry projections indicated that in October there would be an increase of 4% as a result of the climate change convention held in the capital city that month, but the occupancy rate reached 62.3% while in same month of 2010 it was 68.4%.
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