Tourism is expected to generate more than $2.5 billion for the Panamanian economy in 2013, the Panama Tourism Authority, or ATP, said.

"The revenues from tourism during 2013 are going to be above $2.5 billion. In tourist visits, I think we're (at) 875,000 tourists, up to now, and estimates are that 2013 will close on the order of 2.2 million," ATP administrator Salomon Shamah said at a press conference.

Panama's geographic and economic positioning and the large investments to modernize and promote the country have allowed the tourist industry to experience "important growth," he said.

Shamah added that this has helped make the isthmus into a "convention hub" and one of the "safest (tourist destinations) in the world."

He said that air connectivity is the secret of success for any tourism business, given that tourists only arrive by plane, and the country is investing in maintaining and improving its air connections.

Panama has more than 16 direct flights daily from North America, more than 80 from the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and daily direct flights from Europe.

Regarding business tourism, Shamah said that the new Convention Center should be ready by the end of 2014 or the first quarter of 2015, and revenue projections in this sector are $40.5 million in 2013 from a total of 180 conventions, compared with 120 in 2012.

In 2012, 82,281 tourists came to Panama for conventions, up from 71,328 in 2011, according to figures compiled by ATP. EFE