Sunday, July 29, 2007

Minister Blades corrects "residential tourism" aberration

Tourism Minister Ruben Blades explains in a letter published in the July 8 La Prensa (with an English translation in the IPAT site), how he has tried to correct the aberration which the term "residential tourism" has become.

The Former Papa Egoro Presidential candidate blames daily La Prensa for being an example of how twisted ("enredados") some people still are when trying to report about tourism, and about second residence; the mistake is made of affirming the "new tourist visa affects real estate sector". His response is addressed at July 5 articles by La Prensa journalist Raul Bernal and PrimaPanama general manager Paul McBride.

He points out that the insistence in confusing both circumstances, that of tourism and that of who seeks a temporary or permanent residence in Panama, is responsible for all the confusions and apparent contradictions which circulate on the Internet.

This blogger is concerned that the Minister will have an uphill battle in correcting the aberration which residential tourism. The term has 89, 400 hits in Google, quoted by sites such as:

Wikipedia: the economy of the region is turning towards "residential tourism" in which many people from northern European countries have a second home in sunny Murcia.
Government of Montserrat National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP): Much good land has been transferred for residential tourism and other development but there remains an ample supply for agriculture.
Egyptian officials: The minister added that obstacles surrounding visas, property ownership and even public transportation have all been eliminated, fuelling increased interest in residential tourism offerings, new luxury resorts and recently introduced services.
World Wildlife Fund: Second-house tourism has the greatest growth potential in the tourist industry of the Spanish southeast: of every 100 houses built in Alicante, 60 are for the second house market. Foreign tourists (80% from Germany and UK) own 240,000 houses in the province of Alicante, which is the province in Spain with the highest numbers of residents coming from other EU countries. This residential tourism, is normally characterised by high acquisition power.
Governor General of Antigua & Barbuda: My government also recognises that a huge opportunity exists for residential tourism. Both wealthy persons and retired persons in North America and Europe are seeking residences in tropical countries to escape harsh winters. In this connection, one hundred acres of land will be identified for development by major developers with the capacity to build and market such homes. Similar developments have taken place in Barbados, Jamaica and The Bahamas and they have resulted in large scale employment for locals in the service industry, expanded sales to the business community for the supply of goods, and increased and sustainable revenue to the government from property taxes. My government expects to launch this development project within the next few months bringing over thirty million dollars in revenue after all the lands are sold and earning almost four million a year in property taxes once the project is completed.
My government's objective for land-based tourism is to position Antigua and Barbuda so that within the next few years it emerges as one of the principal tourism destinations in the world. It recognises that, to do so, we need a trained and competent work force in all aspects of the hospitality industry including fluency in languages, expertise in the highest levels of culinary art, catering and management. .... The Investment Promotion Agency will work closely with our missions abroad to promote Antigua and Barbuda as a centre for foreign investment in tourism, residential tourism, financial services, e-commerce including internet gaming, and niche agriculture production.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Tourism Development Minister, Greece: he and other senior officials or businessmen in the tourism industry believe that a largely untapped potential for development exists in integrated resort complexes, combining health tourism (thalassotherapy, spas, beauty parlours, rehabilitation facilities), conference centres, marinas, residential tourism (real estate sales or leases, including group retirement schemes), casinos and golf courses.
Invest in Golf: It is not rocket science, which is why other counties are starting to develop their residential tourism markets. Croatia, Turkey, Egypt and Bulgaria are all trying to develop their residential markets and attract foreign investors.
ProExport Colombia: FID and Residential Tourism: Seeking Retirees
Amazon: Books
III Conference on Residential Tourism: 1 whole day of panels and speakers about this aberration.
Cajamar Institute: Study on possibilities of residential tourism in Malaga
Tax Studies Institute: Study on tax barriers to residential tourism
Malaga on the web: Study on residential tourism
University of Madrid: Online course on residential tourism in Andalucia
Promotur: Powerpoint presentations and news from the Andalucia Association of Residential Tourism

Obviously, governments in Greece, Antigua, Colombia and other countries do believe in the benefits of residential tourism. We truly believe that taxpayer moneys would be better spent in immigration control technologies which do not require prospective buyers of US$250K homes to spend 4 hours every 30 days sitting at the overcrowded Avenida Cuba facilities of the Immigration department, if these controls are truly necessary to deter illegal immigration.

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