The National Tourism Council (CNT), the highest management and consultation body in tourism matters, approved a resolution prioritizing the role of local communities as hosts of tourist experiences that allow travelers to connect with the extraordinary richness and diversity of natural and cultural heritage from Panama.
Said resolution arose as a result of the presentation of the 2023 plan of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), where the general administrator, Iván Eskildsen, highlighted important international trends that justify this approach to position the country as a world-class sustainable tourist destination. , according to the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025.
According to a 2022 report from Booking.com, one of the most used travel platforms in the world with more than 1.5 million nights booked every day, 81% of travelers say that sustainable travel is important to them, the 50% indicate that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make sustainable travel decisions, 66% seek to have experiences of local culture and 59% of travelers indicate that they want to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived.
According to another survey carried out by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members (companies) generate 6 million travelers and $15.9 billion in sales per year, 61% of its members indicate that planning itineraries to support local communities will be a priority for them.
In this way, the ATP will continue to prioritize projects at the national level that allow local communities to prepare their tourism offer according to the "market ready" model, through training and infrastructure improvements to optimize the visitor experience. In this sense, we have been working since 2021 with the Panamanian Alliance for Community Tourism (PACTO), with the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism, preparing a pilot group of communities.
The #MilKilometrosDeSenderos project is another priority of the ATP, focused on improving the tourist attractions of local communities, enabling/rehabilitating 1,000 km of trails nationwide by 2030. Recently, the ATP inaugurated the first phase of the Ruta de la Caldera in El Valle de Antón, 30 km of trails where local communities have been integrated as protagonists of the experiences of the Route. At this time, improvements are being made, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment and other allies, for a total of 177 km of trails nationwide.
In its justification to the CNT, the ATP proposed prioritizing this approach with the communities as hosts due to the increasingly relevant demand of national and international tourists for this type of experience, and at the same time considering that tourism represents a great opportunity to reduce the social and economic inequality gap that exists at the national level, while preserving the biodiversity and cultural diversity that makes our country unique.
Thus, the ATP contributes to Plan Colmena, the flagship project of President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, which is coordinated through the Social Cabinet, to which the ATP belongs as a permanent member.