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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.

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“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.

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“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.


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Highlights on Thursday, Oct. 13 include:

Panel: Cultural Significance of the Arts in the Gateway Cities

Panel: Financial Management in a Global Economy

Lunch keynote address: Business Opportunities Post- Panamax ; Ricardo Zubieta – Chief of Staff, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Republica de Panama

Panel: Intellectual Property in the Global Marketplace

Panel: Medical Tourism Defined (Topics will include research and development in the medical field as a driving force in semi-permanent tourism, the status and impacts of emerging tropical diseases on Central and South American tourism, and the benefits associated with international partnerships between medical facilities and medical schools.)


 Highlights on Friday, Oct. 14 include:

Panel: Business Tourism Dossier: Packaging a Successful and Effective Experience (Topics will include expanded capabilities for both New Orleans and Panama’s international airports, logistics to handle the tourism boost anticipated as a result of these efforts, and the role of private air and the hospitality industry in responding to the changes.)

Panel: Risk Management & Insurance Coverage Basics for the Multinational Corporation

Lunch keynote address: Panama Corporate Success in the U.S. – The How & Why; John Coronado – commercial counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Panama).

Panel: How to Capitalize on the U.S. – Panama Free Trade Agreement

Panel:  The Role of Education in a Borderless World 



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