Market Intelligence
Travel and Tourism Food and Beverage Panama Central America

Panama Food and Tourism Sector

The travel and tourism sector are an engine of economic development and a vehicle for sharing cultures. Many factors influence the flow of travelers visiting the country. With an increase of 166.4% during the first two quarters of 2022, Panama continues to be an attractive destination, and its dollarized currency is a strength. U.S. and international hotel chains’ presence in Panama include the Waldorf, Hilton, Marriott and J.W. Marriott, Bristol, Country Inn, Sheraton, Radisson, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Riu, Westin, Wyndham Garden, Novotel, Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower, and Tryp Hotel. Panamanian hotels and resorts primarily procure food and beverages from food service companies and/or directly from distributors, supermarkets, and restaurants. For detailed information on the different hotel and resort options in Panama, please visit the Panamanian Hotel Association.

Panama’s cruise ship market is expanding from both the United States and Europe as Panama continues to grow as a premier travel destination. Cruise ships to Panama City anchor either at Fuerte Amador and Balboa located at Panama Canal’s Pacific Ocean entrance, or Port Colon 2000 in the Caribbean.

Restaurants in Panama City are well developed and feature highly ranked world-class chefs in international cuisine. Due to expanding tourism, growing immigration, and higher consumer purchasing power, the selection of restaurants and international cuisine is expected to continue to grow. Currently, the Panamanian Restaurant Association and Related Business (ARAP) have more than 400 active members. 

International food service operators and local companies such as Sysco, H.T. Tzanetatos, Proserv, Procesadora Monte Azul, Dicarina, and others have been serving the food service sector for more than 50 years, providing imports of U.S. food and beverages, logistics in warehousing/transportation, and product sales and marketing. With these institutions and facilities, fueling both local and international cuisines, Panama’s food service industry is among the strongest in the country. In fact, fast food 5 franchises, cafes, bars, bakeries, ice-cream shops, family-owned restaurants, food trucks, street side vendors, convenience stores, and catering services all benefit from this strong trade framework.

In the other hand, the institutional sector includes private and public hospitals, the national police, and penitentiary systems. Private hospitals have their own logistical operations for patient meals and to supply their cafeterias, while public hospitals and the police usually bid their requirements on yearly or 5-year term contracts with local food service providers, restaurants, or food processors.

SaborUSA is a strategic cross-media marketing plan managed by The Foreign Agricultural Service Panama that promotes demand generation for food and beverages imported from the U.S.A. Under the tag line “Unidos Por Los Sabores”, the campaign celebrates the gastronomic ties between Panama and the United States of America. U.S. exporters are encouraged to review our SaborUSA work and contact The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Panama with collaboration ideas.

For more information, please visit the FAS Panama Report.

If you are interested in the food and beverages sector in Panama, contact your local U.S. Commercial Service office or Fabiana Ortega, Commercial Assistant in Panama by email at