January 1, 2005
Panama's tourism minister, singer-actor Rubén Blades, has ambitious plans for transforming his sector into a key component of the country's economic development program. He wants to turn to the international capital markets to help make it a reality.
Blades has proposed a $100 million, 10-year sovereign bond issue to raise funds for the Panamanian Tourism Institute (IPAT), the country's tourism promotion and development agency. Planning is still in its preliminary stages and Blades is not sure whether IPAT itself or the sovereign would be the issuer. The government has optimistically predicted that
Panama wants to double its tourism industry revenues in five years. Better organization will be needed to make that plan attainable.