¡Por Supuesto! Focus Forward 2016 highlights tourism and business connections between NOLA and Panama


Some folks say New Orleans is the “northernmost city in the Caribbean” with its humid climate and laid-back approach to certain things. This week the Panama Gateway International Association (PGIA) will hold the inaugural Focus Forward 2016, a conference demonstrating that connectivity to our neighbors to the south.

Oct. 13-14 brings panel sessions, keynotes and networking that will explore the cultural and commercial opportunities in New Orleans and Panama. The conference is presented in partnership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and Greater New Orleans, Inc., two important economic development groups for our region.

Of special interest to this writer is the potential for tourism growth between NOLA and the Gateway to the Americas.

“Copa Airlines’ new direct flights between New Orleans and Panama makes it easier and faster than ever for Louisianans, and their Gulf Coast neighbors, to visit Panama and vice versa,” said Jacqueline Brettner, executive board member of PGIA and a partner with the Carver Darden law firm in New Orleans. “New Orleans and Panama are a natural fit and share a long history. Both cities are rich in musical, culinary, and artistic expression. Both have citizens proud of their heritage — and rightfully so.”

Tourism will have its own panel on Friday at Focus Forward 2016, and according to Brettner it will cover, “the growing tourism trend in Panama and opportunities for mutual cooperation with Panama in this industry and supporting industries.”

With the tourism and hospitality industry playing such a critical role in New Orleans, and a growing one in Panama, it stands to reason other industries would find cooperative roles as well.

“As part of it summit, Panama Gateway is organizing certain industry leader meetings with an eye towards identifying new areas for cooperation, implementing new growth through technology in these areas and expanding the already rich relationship New Orleans shares with Panama,” said Brettner.

The panels and keynotes will take place at the J.W. Marriott Hotel and cocktail receptions will be at the InterContinental Hotel. As of press time, registrations were still available online and if the conference is not sold out before Thursday, in-person registration will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The cost is $150-$2000.

You can read the full article here.