Only four days to the great party dedicated to young Catholics begins, it is increasingly common to meet pilgrims and tourists who are captivated by the landscape, customs and warmth of Panama, which expects to collect almost 400 million dollars in foreign currency.
This opportunity that gives strength to the motor of the tourist sector, is taken advantage of by thousands of businesses that, before the massive arrival of visitors, they organized to offer innovative services. Sounds great the economic spill that more than 250,000 people who will arrive to the country will leave in Panama.
And, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the World Youth Day (WYD) will have a direct impact of 388 million dollars, while the indirect could reach 700 million dollars, which is equivalent to 1.5 of the nation's gross domestic product.
With this amount, the investment made around the event, which was 45 million dollars, would be easily recovered.
The Panamanian hoteliers maintain a moderate expectation of touching the full of their establishments during the next visit of Pope Francis, an event that increased the prices of the places of the main city of the country, Panama.
The Government speaks of an 80 percent of hotel occupancy; but the guild that runs that pillar of the economy remains cautious when mentioning 60 percent of reserves in the capital; except for the outskirts, where 100 percent occupation is imposed.
The other areas of the interior, where the provinces are located as a place of passage, the accommodations are at the top, that by having a variety of activities that can offer tourists as a number of landscapes, activities and cuisine.
A spokesman for the Panamanian Hotel Association of Panama (APATEL) told Acan-Efe that before the pre-season the figure was a 40 percent occupancy in the establishments, and now they expect it to surpass it despite the increase in prices.
In a searching for online hosting pages, rates for hotels with one to five stars range from US$ 50 to US$ 350; and in special packages, costs vary from US$ 90 to US$ 175 per night. And if you talk about savings, hopefully you can find spaces in hostels at less than 20 dollars.
Panama offers 30,000 rooms to host visitors, although many of the young pilgrims will stay in homes and schools.
The administrator of Tourism of Panama, Gustavo Him, mentioned to Acan-Efe that although will not arrive more people of the predicted, by the absence of the corporate market that did not manage to offer packages of trips, the organizers stay positive by the arrival of visitors.
"We think that during the WYD it is possible to reach the expected number, even overcome it, because in smaller events we have had high numbers", he said.
He added that activities such as the International Flower Fair and the Parade of the Thousand Polleras, regional activities full of folkloric coloring, have given good results because of the large number of new visitors that arrived.
In the typical places of attraction, such as the Panama Canal, the historic Casco Antiguo and shopping centers, swells of young people identified with the flags of their countries are proudly walking, including the songs of the WYD anthem usually heard in the trains of the Panama Metro lines.
Other sectors that will take advantage of this avalanche are the souvenir shops that change their exhibitions to adapt themselves to the arrival of the Argentine pontiff, protagonist of many "souvenirs". They offer too the emblem of the WYD.
On consumption and purchases made by pilgrims, the MEF calculates US$ 1 million for the sale of promotional items, 50 million for air transport and 31 million for the trade of commemorative coins.
Since much days ago, Panama has been working on without pause, attending visitors who arrive at the country's entry points, such as airports, bus terminals and cruise ports, where bilingual staff provide information on what to do and where to go, as an extra to their main motive (the WYD).
This event, which will be held from January 22 to 27, and which is already the cause of celebrations among young people who will see the holy father, will give a different color to the picturesque tourism of Panama.