The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) is teaming up with the World Tourism Organization (WTO) to launch a new program designed to develop new tourism experiences in Panama.
The groups are collaborating on the Innovative Community Tourism Experiences Competition, which is designed to promote innovation through alliances between tour operators and community tourism providers. The idea is to encourage the conservation and regeneration of Panama’s natural and cultural heritage and the empowerment of local communities.
The announcement is the latest that sign ATP is cranking up efforts to expand tourism, which remains a relatively untapped gold mine for the country. While Panama is certainly a popular destination, there is a widely held belief that we have barely scratched the surface of the potential for tourism to boost the economy and support communities.
As of July 2022, Panama has exceeded the figure of 1 million visitors, more than triple the visitor arrivals in 2021, according to coverage in Hospitality Net. The association predicts tourism levels will reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.
The latest effort focuses on communities throughout Panama and developing tourism ideas that highlight the beautiful natural environments throughout the country.
“Our Sustainable Tourism Master Plan establishes that, in order to achieve true sustainability, local communities must be at the center of the tourism phenomenon,” the Minister of Tourism of Panama, Iván Eskildsen said. “We value the support of the UNWTO and its commitment to the transformation of our industry.”
The categories of the contest will reflect the five Heritage Routes of Panama established in the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025: (1) Bridge of the World Route, (2) Crucible of Cultures Route, (3) Forests of Life Route, (4) Birds in Paradise, (5) Wonders of the Ocean.
The program’s larger goals are to improve the quality of life of local communities while conserving and regenerating its natural and cultural treasures.
“During the pandemic, technology and the growing sense of responsibility have created a need to develop new transformative products that are more inclusive and sustainable,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.