The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) announced the unanimous approval of its Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025 (PMTS) by the National Tourism Council, the main public-private body for the management of the tourism sector in Panama. The five-year plan outlines ATP's strategy for relaunching the country as a tourist destination, following its post-pandemic reopening on October 12, 2020.
"The Sustainable Tourism Master Plan is a differentiation strategy, through innovation and sustainability, that highlights the natural and cultural heritage of Panama," said the Minister of Tourism of Panama, Ivan Eskildsen. "Our assets offer a safe value in the current uncertain world environment, which is expected to be very competitive and to which our country responds with the strength of its authenticity".
The plan reactivates Panama's Tourism, Conservation and Research (TCI) strategy that was applied more than 20 years ago by the prestigious ecologist Dr. Hana Ayala. The TCI Strategy places the country's conservation and sustainability efforts at the forefront, along with its unique nature, culture, and historic offerings, and capitalizes on the overall safety that Panama offers.
The updated heritage routes strategy now features three focus areas: cultural heritage, green heritage, and blue heritage. Comprised of 19 circuits that tell the stories of Panama, the plan was developed through extensive analysis and research conducted in multiple workshops with the help of local and international consultants, including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the academic team of the Biomuseo, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Culture, the Panamanian tourism industry and other key organizations.
The Heritage Routes are unique in what they offer:
Cultural Heritage: Narrates the history of Panama as the Bridge of the World, connecting world-class attractions such as the Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage), the world-famous Panama Canal, the first interoceanic railway, among others. In addition, the cultural circuits show the multicultural diversity of Panama, offering experiences through the three main cultures of Panama: its 7 living indigenous groups, its Afro-Panamanian heritage, including the culture of the Congo (UNESCO Intangible Heritage) and its colorful culture. Spanish colonial. Panama's cultural diversity is also experienced in its gastronomy, with UNESCO recognizing Panama City as a creative city in gastronomy.
Green Heritage: Since the Isthmus of Panama was formed 3 million years ago, there has been a great exchange of species between North and South America, providing the country with extraordinary biodiversity: it is home to more species of birds, reptiles, mammals and trees than the United States and Canada together. The Green Heritage routes take the visitor through National Parks, protected areas and private reserves in the neotropical rainforest of Panama (one third of the country is protected), including experiences through the visitor centers of the Smithsonian Institute for Tropical Research, one of which is the Barro Colorado Natural Monument in the Panama Canal basin, considered the most studied tropical forest in the world.
Blue Heritage: Three million years ago, with the creation of the Isthmus of Panama land bridge, the Caribbean and Pacific oceans separated, becoming two different oceans in terms of tides, climate, and marine fauna. The experiences offered in the various ecosystems on the Blue Heritage routes include whale watching in the surroundings of the Coiba National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the admiration of turtle conservation projects in the Pacific Ocean. , as well as the exploration of the turquoise Caribbean waters of Bocas del Toro, recognized as a “Hope Spot” by Mission Blue, the initiative led by Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer.
Panama's PMTS renews the country's tourism strategy and hopes for a progressive reactivation of the industry after the pandemic. The first international appointment of the destination for the relaunch of tourism was the Experience Panama Expo, a virtual fair that took place from September 25-27, 2020, with local exhibitors and international buyers, and also coincides with a virtual meeting of ministers of the region.
The PMTS also includes an important component of community tourism, which is connected to a flagship project of the administration of Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo - Plan Colmena, which seeks to improve the development of the 300 municipalities with the greatest socioeconomic vulnerability in the country. Paradoxically, some of these communities have a rich natural and cultural heritage, and they are mainly indigenous and Afro-Panamanian communities. These communities can offer the most demanding travelers the interaction with authentic and living cultures, which are surrounded by pristine ecosystems, within the Heritage Routes.
The five-year plan focused on the reactivation of the country's tourism industry represents an estimated investment of US $ 301.9 million that includes investments made through the Tourism Promotion Fund (PROMTUR), and financed with a loan approved with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Punta Patiño in Darién is the first and largest private natural reserve in Panamá with an extension of over 30,000 hectares (86,000 acres) and a range of ecosystems such as mangroves, beaches, dry forests (scarce in Panama) and humid forests. The reserve is home to a variety of endangered species like the jaguar, puma, harpy eagle, carey turtles among others.
Once you have made an online donation, you’ll receive a certificate with your name and be able to see in the map of the Reserve, the number of hectare (s) you are preserving.