Panama Travel Industry Update No. 4
- Through these updates and until we meet virtually or in person, we want to keep you informed of the measures taken by Panama and our industry with regards to the worldwide emergency due to the coronavirus.
Panama Industry Update No. 4
July 7, 2020
PANAMA RECEIVES SAFE TRAVELS STAMP BY THE WTTC
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has recognized Panama’s compliance with health and hygiene global standardized protocols through its SAFE TRAVELS Stamp, which takes into account current World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
Panama, a country located at the heart of the Americas, has been carefully preparing to welcome travelers taking all necessary measures to provide the safest environment possible for the travel industry service providers, residents and tourists.
Iván Eskildsen, Panama’s Minister of Tourism, said: “As the hub of the Americas, restoring confidence for travelers and tourists will be a key factor for the reactivation of our industry and our economy. The WTTC Safe Travels stamp is a great way of building trust, aligning the protocols we have developed with our Ministry of Health with WTTC standards, so that travelers can have a safe journey through our country.”
The WTTC protocols and Safe Travels Stamp, embraced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), also align with the Ministry of Health of Panama´s guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. It provides the tourism sector with the insights and toolkits to carry out safety and hygiene measures and standards for businesses so our travelers can feel safe as the world shifts to a new normal.
GRADUAL AND SAFE STEPS
Panama’s Ministry of Labor (MITRADEL) has presented the protocol for the gradual reopening of commercial activities, including biosafety measures, mandatory use of face masks, social distancing protocols and capacity limits, in order to maintain high standards of sanitation for the population and visitors.
PANAMA’s natural beauty and accessibility provide endless activities a stone’s throw away from its international airports: historical sites, ethnic communities reached by a river boat, hiking and natural parks for bird watching, beaches and, of course, the Panama Canal.
The Safe Travels Stamp seals travelers’ choice. As soon as international travel bans are uplifted, Panama will be ready to greet visitors.
THE HUB OF THE AMERICAS OPENS AFTER JULY 23RD , 2020
Labor and commercial activities have begun by phases and the Hub of the Americas will reopen international air travel after July 23rd.
Restrictions are carefully being uplifted through the protocols and phases regulated by MITRADEL, in order to maintain high standards of sanitation for the population, and eventually visitors, whom we are scheduled to welcome in Phase No. 4, date yet to be determined.
- Phase 1 started on May 13th with e-commerce, mechanical workshops, spare parts, technical services, industrial fishing, and aquaculture.
- Phase 2 began June 1st including prioritized public infrastructure construction sector, non-metallic mining and industry, religious services and sports activities, under social distancing conditions and following circulation schedules.
- Phase 3, date to be determined (TBD), includes non-essential wholesale and retail trade, car sales, private construction projects, and general administrative services.
- Phase 4 includes international air transportation scheduled for July 23rd, COPA Airlines on August 7th, while venues, hotel and restaurants’ reopening date is yet TBD.
- Phase 5, date TBD includes education centers, recreational transportation and facilities, sporting events.
- Phase 6 - date TBD, includes reopening of all sectors of the economy with sanitation requirements and social distancing measures, including concerts, conventions, and crowded events (public and private).
HIGH LEVEL OF TESTING, LOW MORTALITY RATE AND SAFETY MEASURES
After Canada and Chile, Panama is the country with the most testing per million residents in the region. This practice has allowed early detection and treatment, reducing the mortality rate to 1.9% vs. the global 5%.
Although the date to initiate Phase No.4 is TBD, the tourism industry has continued its preparations to operate safely once it is authorized. The Panamanian Tourism Authority and Tocumen Airport, the Hub of the Americas, have presented their sanitation protocols to the authorities.
At the moment, international routes for major airlines are being re-scheduled, most of them beginning on August 2020 with daily frequencies from the Americas and twice-a-week frequencies from other continents. Airlines flying to and from Panama before the lockdown were: COPA Airlines, Air France KLM, Air Europa, Iberia, Turkish Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Spirit, Avianca (Lacsa) and Lufthansa.
At arrival, travelers should complete a sworn declaration, stating any symptoms within previous days or if they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms or similar. Temperature screenings will certainly remain a regular part of security protocols. No quarantine measures nor further testing are currently being contemplated.
Regarding entry ports such as cruise ports and other port operators, we estimate to restart operations between September and November 2020, as our cruise season begins. However, since most cruise lines that operate and transit through Panama come from the United States and Europe, it is probable there will be further delays in arrivals and transits of these cruise ships. Panama might expect to welcome US cruise lines in the following season, October 2021, considering they will initiate domestically during 2020.
Travelers will soon be able to find Panama’s biosafety protocols on our website VisitPanama.com, once approved by MINSA, our local authority in health matters. Wearing a face mask is required at all times when interacting with others, except if a person remains solely within their own “social bubble”, meaning people that are traveling together as a family or people that live together. Otherwise, if there are social interactions with other travelers it is essential to follow the health and sanitation guidelines: social distancing of two meters, maintaining proper hand washing or sanitizing practices, wearing face masks, and avoid touching one’s face.
At the moment, shops, museums, restaurants, bars, are not open. MINSA is monitoring local and international COVID-19 tendencies and strives to guarantee the safest return to regular activities as soon as possible.
Taxis are advised to use natural ventilation at all times and ensure appropriate hygiene and sanitation measures for passengers and drivers. MINSA suggests physical distancing within the taxi.
On the other hand, the Panama Tourism of Authority has proposed a plan to reopen tourism in the country that includes the following, in order of priority:
1. That tours be allowed in protected natural areas such as trails, mountains, beaches, all sports activities and at the same time the reactivation of tourist guide services.
2. Reopening of airports, hotels and travel agencies as well as tour operators. The approval of economic measures will allow the maintenance of tourist infrastructure.
3. Under evaluation, permittance of activities such as meetings, events, conferences at 60% capacity.
These measures are still subject to the approval of MINSA.
We are focused on the revival of our domestic tourism, allowing locals to rediscover the beauty of our country's values and tradition. Panama expects to welcome international tourists by the end of 2020 or the first semester of 2021.
Be sure that we will keep you updated on our COVID recovery and related information for travelers. You can also find our latest updates, both in English and Spanish, on promturpanama.com, under the menu Noticias, Comunicaciones PROMTUR Panama.