Thursday, November 20, 2008

How will economic conditions affect backpacking in Panama and Central America

Hi all,

As a world wide financial panic sends market down, I wonder how this will impact the alternative traveler, here I refer primarily to the 'backpacker' these travelers live dirt cheap, these roaming nomads follow a long tradition of free thinking bohemians that live day to day at times with no particular plan, nomads going north,south east and west, these Hostel dwellers live on 10-30 dollars a day, use public transportation and even work for lodging and food. I have posed this question on a variety of blogs and forums and the consensus from those in the industry including the Hostel Management Website is that Hostel will enjoy a boost given the current economic conditions. Those at the very bottom of the tourism rung, 'the backpacker' will continue to travel regardless of the condition of the markets. Why? Because they have a limited amount of disposable income that is committed to long trips on the trail, well worn by thousands on the same path. They live on a few dollars a day and keep moving, they travel because they must. At Bambu Hostel we have noticed a decrease in American travelers and more Euro, Aussie and Canadian travelers. What we have noticed is that they are more sensitive than ever to price points and in reaction to that bambu lowered dorm beds to $8 from $10. The competition has gotten fiercer for the backpacker dollar, but they do keep coming and i doubt they will stop.

As for airtech we have noticed too that price points determine sales, we have had to raise prices due to fuel and tax increases and notice a decline in sales related to that, our new web 2.9 site here is a reaction to that, we are using a new business model so we are not so dependent on ticket sales to survive. But the community of alternative travelers live on. Even more so now, especially for the Americans traveling out there this is a great time to be able to answer the question 'where are you from' without getting an angry look. Many backpackers from USA took to sewing canadian flags on their packs so they wouldn't get yelled at. What a horror the last 8 years of neo-con fascism has been. What a relief the new election has brought us.

I would like to hear responses and input here...

Mike Esterson
President Airtech and Bambu Hostel David Panama

1 comment:

Daryl Wright said...

Hey! Daryl from Canada here, I'll probably be coming through Bambu Hostel in Febuary, I arrive in Panama city in January so it all depends on how long I get lost in the big city for. I think the economic conditions will effect backpackers at the Air ticket sales, and not so much the daily costs, although I do feel the impact as well, My mutual funds are down 45% in 4 months, This leaves me strapped for cash when I should be planning for $50 a day, i'll be looking at somthing closer to $20.

Anyways, Hope to see you in the new year

- Daryl