Panama tourism businesses are a favorite with foreign retirees

Panama tourism business appeal to you? Tourism might be right for you if you like the idea of living in this country but need extra income to make it possible. Many expats run lodges, camps, bed-and-breakfast operations or small hotels. Others concentrate on activities such as horseback riding or river rafting. The opportunities are virtually endless.

Panama government is conscious of all it has to offer tourists and exploiting its potential is a high government priority.

As a pensionado or immigrant retiree, you may not work here as an employee, but the Panama government will welcome you with open arms if you want to start a Panama tourism business – or almost any business. Tourism works well because, in general, you can operate in your own language, catering to others from ‘back home’ and introducing them to the Panama culture. If you enjoy helping people, you already have much of what it takes to run a successful Panama tourism business.

The Panama government offers grants and incentives for many activities associated with Panama tourism, an important source of revenue for the country.

Invest $50,000 or more in a Panama tourism business outside the capital region (not counting the price of land) and the following benefits are available:

  • Exemption of import duties for 20 years associated with materials, furniture, equipment, and certain types of vehicles not produced in Panama or produced in insufficient quantity
  • Exemption for 20 years from real estate taxes
  • Exemption from taxes levied on the net worth of the company
  • Exemption from taxes for using airports, piers or heliports built by the company
  • Exemption from income tax for creditors investing in building tourist lodgings
  • Accelerated depreciation of real estate
  • Exemption of duties on vehicles used exclusively for tourism activities and for hotel, airport and port transportation
  • A three-year exemption from import duties on material and equipment used in restaurants, discos and nightclubs aimed at tourists
  • Exemption every three years from duties on vehicles and boats to be used by tourists

Business in Panama City requires a minimum investment of $300,000 to qualify for these benefits. There are no restrictions against buying existing businesses, other than retail.

The government incentives are paying off. Billions in development dollars, and improvements to infrastructure already by far the finest in Central America, have led to Panama tourism growth that is greater than the world average.

Pensionados, in business or otherwise, have the same rights and freedoms of any Panamanian citizen. The country is economically and politically stable. Local currency is the U.S. dollar, and there are no restrictions on transferring money.

The tourism business in Panama has only one way to go.