The pleasure boat market has shown significant growth during the last seven years as a result of the dynamism of the Panamanian economy, the discovery of Panama as an excellent fishing place as well as its many tourist attractions, and the excellent logistics that the country offers including telecommunications, air connectivity, banking and hotel availability. Marina construction is booming as the demand for boat facilities continues to increase.
There are no restrictions or significant regulation for boat importation and the import duty is relatively low (10% over CIF value). Temporary entry is available up to one year, with no payment of import duties.
The U.S. is the leader in the local boat market with over 70% market share. U.S. boat products enjoy a strong reputation and are considered reliable and of high quality.
Prospective boat buyers include large local companies, retirees from the U.S. and Europe, wealthy Panamanians, and investors from South America, especially from Colombia and Venezuela
Panamanians like to travel and attend U.S. boat shows. The most popular shows are the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and the Miami Boat Show. There is no local production of boats in Panama.
Overall demand for pleasure boats is expected to continue increasing by 5-7% annually. The Panamanian economy has been growing steadily during the last five years and the global financial crisis has not impacted the country significantly . Additionally, there has been a strong immigration from Venezuela and Colombia, especially investors who are looking for business opportunities in Panama.
The above situation has been positive for the pleasure boat sector. One of the indicators has been the proliferation of marina facilities on both oceans. The demand for marina space has been on the rise as the pleasure boat population continues to increase. There is also a demand from visiting boats that require temporary facilities.
There are a number of tourist attractions to visit such as Isla Grande, Portobelo, Bahia Pinas on the Atlantic side, and the islands of Contadora, Taboga and Coiba on the Pacific side. There are currently close to twenty marinas in Panama, and most of them are operational. A few of them are under construction.
Panama is one of the world’s best fishing grounds, but has yet to compete in regional organized events. The Panamanian tourism office and other organization have been very active in the promotion of Panama as a fishing destination.
More than 70% of the market is related to fishing boats. Although the cruising segment represents a small section of the Pacific Ocean market, it is the mainstay in the Caribbean Sea. Many customers prefer cruisers as they prefer spending time on the ocean with family and friends.