Panama Video for the Americas Summit

GO Local in Panama: A visit to the Fish Market

Discover the way the local Panamanians enjoy the country.  Taste, touch and listen to the real Panama.  you will get a completely new feel for the country as you discovery everyday life.  Learn about the culture and support the locals by buying local products.

A truly local experience in the heart of Panama City The Mercado de Mariscos is the city fish market, open for business to local restaurants and the public every day except the 3rd Monday of each month when it is closed completely for thorough cleaning. It’s the best place to buy fresh fish in Panama City – everything from tuna to snapper to lobster to octopus – or ceviche to go from one of the many vendors. It’s bustling with energy as local shoppers mingle with tourists to inspect the day’s catch.

On the outside of the market you find numerous small stalls selling Ceviche (a Panamanian specialty made with fish cured in lemon juice) and some other typical seafood dishes. Join the crowds for lunch with cup of your favorite type of fresh cold Ceviche or seafood cocktail, or head upstairs to the casual restaurant where you get a variety of typical Panamanian seafood dishes.
Take your time to taste the bounty of Panama’s oceans (some scholars even say that the word “Panama” originally meant “abundance of fish”), have a look around, and feel that you have now really arrived in Panama

Do you know Casco Antiguo?

Also known as Colonial Panama, Casco Antiguo is the historic center of the capital.  It is a charming district of narrow streets overlooked by flower-bedecked balconies of two or three-story houses.  At its tip lies the French Plaza, a monument to the French builders of the Panama Canal, and the French Embassy.  On the walkway around the monument, visitors have a fine view of the Amador Causeway, the Biodiversity Museum, the Bridge of the Americans and the skyscraper skyline of Panama City to the east.  A plaque on the walkway commemorates the firing of cannon shots to drive away a Colombian warship and consolidate Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.  To one side of the monument is an old Spanish structure called Las Bovedas, now home to an art gallery and French restaurant.

Strolling about this 337-year-old neighborhood, enjoy both history and contemporary local culture- every corner has something of historical significance or local color. Another attraction is the sweeping ocean views of Panama Bay’s modern skyscraper skyline by day and night, the Amador Causeway islands and the ship-busy entrance to the Panama Canal.”

“Panamanian sounds and smells that fill the Casco Viejo air are part of that local color. Street peddlers cry out ‘bollo‘ as they sell soft corn wrapped up in corn leaves, a Panamanian favorite. At Panama’s “White House” the presidential honor guard’s cheerful cadence perform early morning calisthenics, local kids play basketball in a community court, Kuna Indians sell colorful molas in the Plazas as lovers stroll hand in hand catching glimpses of the distant Canal, old-timers settle on park benches as their grandchildren play soccer around groups of passing tourists. The best way to experience Casco Viejo is to stay in a hotel in one of the beautifully restored buildings. This is the place to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean free from Panama City’s sprawl and traffic, yet the business district is a short 10 minutes away.”

Some excellent museums, art craft shops, galleries, and boutiques are found in Casco Viejo, including the Canal Museum, which traces Panama’s history as the route connecting Atlantic and Pacific from pre-Hispanic to modern times.  Next door is the old cathedral that is under major renovation, with gleaming spires inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  Neary is a small museum dedicated to religious art found in the old Santo Domingo monastery, where visitors will also see the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama was earthquake safe country.  You can also walk towards the San Jose Cathedral or the beautiful Golden Altar, intricately carved of wood and gilded with gold.  Another building that you should not miss is the Presidential Palace, which can be toured on Sundays.

If you visit Casco Antiguo at night is totally a different vibe, full of cafes, bars, and excellent restaurants.  Don´t miss the opportunity to discover more about Panama’s history and book a biking or walking tour to Casco Viejo with one of our history expert guides.

Learn to Surf in Panama! (Beginner and intermediate levels)

Surfers represent a diverse culture based on riding the waves. Some people practice surfing as a recreational activity while others make it the central focus of their lives.  For those who currently surf, or wish to learn to surf, Panama offers to the surfing enthusiast two oceans from which to choose, the Atlantic and Pacific. This allows locals and visitors to take advantage of currently weather and wave conditions, not to mention that some of the most popular surf spots are within an hour or two from the cosmopolitan Panama City.

Day 1 – Welcome to Panama!

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos guide will be meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. You will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Once you arrive to your hotel, please check. Your transfer will take 25-30 minutes approximately.

Day 2 – Surfing the Pacific

After breakfast you will be transferred to El Palmar Beach located an hour and 15 minutes away from Panama City in San Carlos, Panama. It is one of the most renowned surf spots on the Pacific Coast of Panama and features waves ideal for both beginners and advanced surfers. The lessons are designed to teach you the fundamentals of surfing. Whether you have never surfed before or tried a couple times, professional instructors will teach you the secrets to speedy progress while having lots of fun.   This course starts with on the beach instruction. Then you will hit the water with an instructor, who will guide you through the different techniques to help you catch and ride waves on your own. Surfboards are included and we have special boards for beginners. Lodging will be in a hotel nearby, (B,L)

 Day 3 – Surfing the Pacific Part 2

After breakfast you will be heading to one of the several surf spots of Rio Mar or another nearby surfing spot to continue with your surfing lessons. Rio Mar suits beginners and surfers of all levels. There are consistent beach breaks – lefts and rights, and a world class right point break. Other breaks close are within 15 minute driving distance. Transfers to other surf spots are available upon request. At the appropriate time in the afternoon, you will be transferred to your hotel in Panama City. Hotel in the City, (B,L)

 Day 4 – Caribbean Coast of Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Early in the morning you will be transferred to Albrook domestic airport for an one-hour flight to the Bocas del Toro Archipelago located in the Caribbean of West Panama near the border of Costa Rica and has become an outdoor lover’s paradise. Surfing in Bocas Del Toro, is different from surfing in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua or other places in Central America. The surf here is island/reef surf, similar to what a surfer might find in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. Upon your arrival, you will be pick up by our representative and transferred to you hotel. After lunch in the afternoon, you will have a yoga class with a certified instructor to get ready for your upcoming surfing adventures. After yoga you can organize a tour or activity to get to know the Bocas area. Depending on the time we may be able to sneak in a quick visit to a nearby beach. Hotel in the area, (B,L).

Day 5 & 6 – Bocas del Toro Archipelago

After breakfast you will meet your surf instructor that will give you a theory class about surfing Bocas del Toro. The instructor will explain to you all different wave details including where the peak and channel are. According to your level, stance and personal preference the instructor will select the most suitable spot for your session. All sessions include theory class, bilingual certified teacher, surfboard, rash guard and transport to and from the break. Hotel in the area, (B,L).

Day 7 – Return to Panama City-Full Day City Tour

In the morning you will be transferred to the Bocas local airport for your flight back to Panama City. Upon arrival an EcoCircuitos representative will take you on a tour to visit the ruins of Old Panama and continue to Casco Antiguo (the old city compound), which dates from the late 1600’s.
A bilingual historical guide will describe the events in history leading up to the movement of the capital city founded by Pedrarias to its present location. Casco Antiguo is home to monuments of Ferdinand de Lesseps and other important historical Frenchmen that attempted to construct a canal through Panama. The full day tour continues with a visit to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal where large ships can be seen transiting the Canal.
Enjoy a presentation by the Panama Canal Authority about the history of the Panama Canal and marvel at the workings of this feat of human engineering. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. The tour will continue to the Panama Canal area, including the town of Balboa, formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone. In the late afternoon you will return to your hotel in Panama City. Hotel in the City,(B,L).

Day 8 – Departure

At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the International Tocumen Airport for your departure. (B)

Beyond the Panama Canal

Beyond the Panama Canal, you could find yourself in lush tropical rain forests of the Canal Watershed or walking through the maze like streets of Casco Antiguo between the colorful colonial buildings and art shops and gourmet restaurants. You may also find yourself on a deserted island watching tropical fish weave through your toes. This is just a touch of what you will find in Panama. The country’s rich history is just like the fine detail you will find in a Guna indigenous mola.

In a diverse country like Panama, it comes as no surprise that travel and tourism are well developed. Tiny locally owned luxury boutique hotels coexist with many of the world’s big names in the hospitality sector, such as Waldorf Astoria, Trump, Hilton or Marriott.

Escape the winter and let yourself be surprised by Panama. Encounter traditional indigenous settlements less than two hours from the city’s international banking district, watch the incredible wildlife along the Panama Canal while huge cargo ships cross from ocean to ocean in the background, spend the morning in a state-of-the-art convention center and the afternoon on a perfect beach. Whatever you are looking for, you can find it here.

Suggestions: Stay in the colonial district of Casco Antiguo and visit nearby landmarks such as the Miraflores Locks, Panama Viejo arqueological site, the Biodiversity Museum designed by Frank Gehry and climb Discovery Centre Rain Forest tower-climb up 30 meters and gaze over the forest canopy in the Soberania National Park.

Visit the picturesque San Blas Archipelago, home of the Guna people and eat amazing seafood while learning about this vibrant culture. Then make your way to the Chiriqui highlands and search for the resplendent quetzal and drink the renowned Geshia coffee. Also make your way to the Bocas del Toro Archipelago for great snorkeling and beach combing at its best. If you have time visit the Azuero Peninsula the heart of Panama´s colonial culture and great beaches for surfing and sunbathing. For the more adventurous trek the Darien gap. Panama has something for everyone.

By EcoCircuitos Panama

Dos Tareas Pendientes en Turismo

Annie Young J.

opinion@prensa.com

25/10/2014En mis más de 15 años de labor en la industria del turismo encuentro que la mayoría de las molestias de quienes nos visitan tiene que ver con las expectativas de aseo y de servicio al cliente. He recibido quejas por los malos olores de la basura cercana a los hoteles y sitios de interés turístico, y por el mal trato e indiferencia con que se despacha al turista en los diferentes sectores comerciales.

El problema de la basura en Panamá se hace cada vez más palpable. Sin hablar del caos que se vive en las calles de la ciudad, de los decibeles ensordecedores y del ruido visual que genera la publicidad en las calles. Es inadmisible que en sitios como el Casco Antiguo o la Calzada de Amador, los basureros se desborden, sin que ninguna autoridad se de por aludida. En repetidas ocasiones veo con tristeza la basura acumulada por meses en los parques nacionales. Desde llantas viejas, toda clase de recipientes plásticos, hasta pedazos gigantescos de concreto y residuos de la construcción. Los turistas miran, y no comprenden. Y entonces me pregunto: ¿Por qué la ausencia de un programa serio de reciclaje en la agenda nacional?

El nivel de servicio al cliente que los turistas reciben en sus viajes determina si estos regresan nuevamente al destino o lo evitan en el futuro corriendo la voz sobre su buena o mala reputación. Un servicio al cliente de primera clase hace la diferencia entre elegir o no un destino nuevamente y un país limpio es parte del atractivo. Los viajeros de hoy buscan experiencias felices durante sus vacaciones y cuando se trata de la industria de la hospitalidad, los huéspedes esperan que los traten con amabilidad y no tener que caminar sobre la basura.

Panamá esta en el ranking de uno de los países más felices del mundo, sin embargo en el sector servicio nos falta felicidad. En restaurantes y tiendas la atención muchas veces parece un favor más que un servicio. Los clientes hacen preguntas y se les contesta con informalidad y hasta desprecio.   Los destinos de éxito son los que ofrecen ventajas competitivas y un cambio de actitud hacia el servicio es fundamental en Panamá si queremos atraer más turistas.

En Panamá estamos viviendo una recesión en la industria turística que nos afecta a todos.   La falta de planificación a largo plazo y de promoción en destinos emisores, impide que nuestro país se convierta en un destino preferido, pues no estamos en las mentes del trade turístico y menos de los viajeros.   Además la fluctuación de tarifas hoteleras e informalidad de algunos del sector afecta negativamente contratos con mayoristas internacionales y deteriora la imagen comercial de nuestro destino.

La temporada alta está llegando y debemos impulsar el sector privado y gubernamental estrategias sostenibles que nos ayuden a incrementar el flujo de turistas. Aún con poca promoción podemos lograr que el destino sea atractivo si capacitamos a nuestros colaboradores de la industria en servicio al cliente e impulsamos campañas cívicas sobre la importancia del aseo y el tratamiento de desechos.

Muchos viajeros nos visitan por primera vez durante este mes de Noviembre gracias a la campaña del Black Friday y no están familiarizados con el destino Panamá. Muchos harán preguntas sobre lugares y sitios de interés y es importante que estemos en capacidad y disposición para informar y ayudar a que su experiencia en el país sea completa.   No es solo bajando precios y creando una campaña de compras, es también un cambio de actitud. Los turistas siempre regresan a un país que sonríe.

Biking Tour the Old Quarters

Pedal from the modern city in la Cinta Costera, the Old Quarters to the Rainforest and experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Panama on our biking tours. Mountain bike through Soberania National Park and in Panama City our tour takes you to cycle along Cinta Costera and the bayside. Stop for photographs, a ceviche and beer on the Seafood market.