The economy in Bocas Del Toro this year is great. In fact, the economy in all of Panama is great. The last update on the economy that I read recorded a 6.5% growth. Tourism is up; everybody's businesses are doing well.
Businesses in Bocas are primarily geared towards tourism and real estate. It is still a matter of "season" and "off-season." It may be slow right now but it will pick up this winter. Last season everybody had a great season, we have a great weather, business did well, and we are all doing well. Everything is booked from December to April. If you come here to look for a cheap apartment during season, you will not find any, unless your friend is passing it on to you. However, it you come here during off-season, especially right around August, you can find more places to stay in. It is wise to come off-season, if you are looking for a long-term place to rent.
I would say tourism in Bocas is based on three major aspects. A big part of the economy is tourism. Next is real estate, and then the local businesses. There are a lot of local businesses in Bocas. The local businesses cater to the construction trade such as lumber stores, hardwood stores, and places that sell sand and dirt. Then, there are the regular stores, grocery stores and department stores that sell all the stuff you need every day to live. There are also tourists’ stores that sell souvenirs, and restaurants and bars. All of these contribute a significant amount to the economy in Bocas.