By Clémence Rouleau
Panama is a small tropical country, but it is growing more and more in terms of tourism. Its strategic position makes it possible to drive from one coast to the other in short time, it is bordered by two oceans, and has a connecting position between North and South America. The mix of cultures as for instance indigenous & urban cultures, and the diversity of natural resources are significant advantages.
The main objectives of the government are to produce economic and social prosperity through the development of national and international tourism.
Because of this, Panama seems like an emergent destination in Central America, which can compete with its neighbor Costa Rica. Luxurious forests, pristine beaches, the diversity of the flora and fauna, and indigenous peoples characterize the country. At Tocumen airport, the number of arrivals in the first trimester of 2012 increased to 19,1% in comparison to 2011. The percentage is constantly rising due to newly created facilities and investments in tourism businesses through the opening of a lot of Convention Centers.
But what should tourists do in Panama?
The answer is not easy, since there are many things to do and many places to visit. Each experience is unique here and you meet friendly people who can help you during your visit. The most popular destinations are Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Boquete, and San Blas Archipelago; but many other provinces are worth a visit as well. A lot of activities can be practiced, as for instance hiking, scuba diving, horse riding, bird watching, kayaks, rafting or just relax in paradisiacal beaches.
In addition to this, the mentality and tourism tendencies have changed in the world and tourism is taking a new track. The Authority of Tourism in Panama (ATP) and the Panamanian Association of Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), as well as the touristic infrastructre in Panama are involved in ecotourism -“responsible travel to natural areas conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)
Ecotourism is now developing quickly in the whole country.
Ecotourism in Panama is a necessity. In order to keep the variety of traditions, the country has to maintain its natural resources and the indigenous cultures and lifestyle. This – I would say – is one of the main touristic attractions, since it makes a great difference to Costa Rica for example. Costa Rica is well developed in ecotourism but indigenous peoples have almost completely disappeared. Moreover, with 950 species of birds, 15 natural protected parks, and 11 000 species of plants, Panama offers exciting possibilities to enjoy your vacation.
Partnerships of touristic businesses and local communities are common, and don’t only permit the development of the local economy, but also the maintenance of traditional cultures. The company Ecocircuitos is a part of the economic development of ecotourism due to its ethic values and its involvement in the tours.
If you want to help protect Panama´s environment and traditions by travelling sustainably, feel free to contact us !