PANAMA CITY, Panama, December 18, 2003 – In an opening ceremony today, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) unveiled its new, state-of-the-art visitors’ center. Hosted by ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso and Minister for Canal Affairs and Board Chairman Jerry Salazar officially opened the impressive new facility located at the Miraflores Locks, near the Canal’s Pacific entrance. The event was attended by the Canal’s Board of Directors, the Panamanian Cabinet Council, ACP Directors, the public and the media. Valued at several million dollars, the facility will serve as a hub for tourism, education and recreation.

The Miraflores Visitors’ Center is a four-story structure with balconies that provide a spectacular view of the Miraflores Locks and surrounding area. A lookout deck on the fourth floor provides tremendous panoramic views of the global gateway. The complex includes exhibits and interactive displays of some of the Canal’s recent investments in technology systems. Instructive pavilions will demonstrate to visitors the Canal’s complex operations and the resources needed to bring a vessel through the isthmus.

The facility will serve as an informative focal point for tourism destined to the Canal, with several exhibit areas, a sophisticated 193-seat theater for multimedia presentations and movies, and a fine-dining restaurant. Inside, visitors will learn about one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels and the courageous men and women who dedicated their lives to its completion. An array of enlightening exhibits will connect the Canal’s historical engineering feats with the essential role it serves in today’s global economy. The themes of the exhibit vary from floor to floor: the first floor focuses on history; the second on water; the third on technology; and the fourth on the future.

“We are very proud to open our doors and extend an invitation to anyone interested in the Canal: how it was created, how it runs and where it is going. This phenomenal new complex truly brings to life the story of the Canal – and in a hands-on, beautiful setting,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

About the Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating, and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the Panama Canal Authority’s Web site:

The Authority’s responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the citizens of Panama.

For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway – a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the ACP assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal as well as the protection and conservation of its watershed.

In the past four years, the ACP has made significant strides – shifting to a market-oriented business model focused on customer service and reliability, making major capital investments for new and modern equipment and machinery, increasing safety and operational efficiency for customers, decreasing the time it takes ships to travel through the Canal and widening and deepening sections of the waterway.

An important transportation link, the Canal services more than 140 different transportation routes from every corner – It is where major trading routes of the world connect and intersect providing safe, reliable and secure passage for all vessels.