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Panama Yacht Charter Regulations


As of 8 January 2021, the Panama Maritime Authority issued Resolution No.088-2020, wherein yacht charter licenses have become available for foreign-flagged superyachts to charter and operate in Panamanian national waters. The Operations License for Yacht Charters is part of a strategy to exponentially grow superyacht activity in Panama, its main purpose is to regulate and promote nautical tourism and all the benefits that superyacht activity confers on national and local populations.


“I have been trying to promote Panama as a yachting destination, especially for the superyacht community, for a number of years now. However, the problem has always been that various individuals and authorities have failed to appreciate the numbers involved in this business and what it can do for a country,” starts Juan José Espino, partner at Pardini & Asociados. “After a number of years, the Maritime Chamber of Commerce got on board, as did the marina owners, and finally this governmental administration and the tourism board created a Nautical Tourism Committee.”


The issue of proving the superyacht industry’s worth to economies around the globe is an all too familiar story. In recent years a number of countries, including Australia and Thailand, to name a couple, have struggled to prove to their relative governments how beneficial being open to the superyacht market can be. However, as more data has become available and the superyacht model has been proven around the world, governments are finally waking up to the benefits of having national waters that are open to superyacht charters, both Australia and Thailand are now open to foreign-flagged charters and Panama is the most recent country to get on board with the trend. As more countries open their doors to yachting business, the superyacht industry takes another step towards becoming truly global.


“It took about four years to finally have the resolution passed,” continues Espino. “Due to Panama’s geographical position and the canal, 35 per cent of our gross domestic product comes from maritime-related activity. Therefore, it is only logical that we should look beyond the merchant marine world for opportunities. Superyachts are constantly using the canal, but many of them fail to stop in Panama, either because the charter rules have been prohibitive, or because they are simply unaware of how beautiful Panama’s navigational waters are. Between our two coastlines, we have over 400 beautiful islands.”


Panama's natural beauty has long been known, and indeed many privately-owned superyachts have already been able to experience it, however, prohibitive charter regulations are often the reason that domestic superyacht markets are unable to grow organically. Espino hopes that the amendments to the charter regulations will be the catalyst to attract more superyacht business to the region.


This article was published in the Superyacht Newsletter.


For more information contact:

Juan José Espino

Pardini & Asociados 
Panama Office
Tel +507-223-7222
Fax + 507-223-7535

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