Cubans lead “shopping tourism” in the free zone of Panama

COLON.- In the first quarter of 2024, official figures reveal that a total of 4,172 Cuban citizens visited the Colón Free Zone in Panama to make purchases, followed by Ecuadorians with 2,931 people and Costa Ricans with 1,572.

This behavior had already been recorded in 2023, where Havana was the main contributor with 15,042 travelers.

“Shopping tourism” stands out as one of the strongest commercial activities in the area. According to authorities, last year marked the period of greatest commercial growth since 2012, accumulating a total of $33.368 million in transactions.

According to review Martí News, The merchants explained that Cubans come to the area with the intention of investing in products that they then resell in their country.especially those that satisfy the needs generated by the shortage of electrical energy on the island.

“This country offers a greater quality and variety of products, so we prefer to come here instead of going to Haiti,” said a Cuban buyer. Among the purchases made, mainly miscellaneous items, food and personal care products stand out.

However, several Cubans consulted expressed difficulties in obtaining the visa. Last January, Panama extended until July 31 the mandatory transit visa requirement for Cuban travelers in transit through the country, a measure decreed since March 2022.

The document establishes that the Visa for Passengers or Crew Members in Transit allows a maximum stay of twenty-four hours in the international transit area of ​​the airport, in order to continue the trip to another destination or to the country of origin.

Despite these restrictions, Panama offers Cuban citizens options such as the tourist visa and the shopping visa, for which it is required to present proof of economic solvency, travel itinerary and, sometimes, a letter of invitation or purpose of the trip. journey.

FOUNTAIN: With information from Martí Noticias