Panama advances with the development of sustainable destinations

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Panama advances with the development of sustainable destinations
Wed April 07, 2021

ATP communicate progress of the sustainable tourism plan for Coiba and Santa Catalina

On an official mission carried out in one of the eight priority destinations of the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (PMTS) 2020 - 2025, the General Administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), Iván Eskildsen, in the company of other members of the central government, held a meeting in order to inform businessmen, entrepreneurs, community leaders and local authorities about the progress in the execution of this plan for the destination Santa Catalina / Pacífico Veragüense / Soná / Coiba National Park.

At this meeting, the development model according to the Master Plan for this destination was presented, which highlights the value of the biodiversity of its blue heritage, which included visits to its pristine beaches, active tourism through diving, snorkeling and kayaking, observation of marine fauna, surfing and sport fishing. The activities framed within the green heritage were also highlighted, such as hiking and bird watching, and the cultural heritage where the history of the Coiba Penal Colony stands out.

"The Coiba National Park is the jewel in the crown not only for being a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO, but also for being a living laboratory studied extensively by national and international scientists, and for the unique history of the Coiba Prison" said Ivan Eskildsen, general administrator of the ATP.

The PMTS also highlighted the creation of the "Destination Management Committee", a governance model for monitoring, prioritizing and updating the plan's projects, made up of the ATP, representatives of the destination's tourism sector, the local government and the community. . 

Sherlly Chen, president of the Santa Catalina Chamber of Tourism, said she is confident that the PMTS and the actions of the Tourism Cabinet can solve the problems with the supply of electricity, drinking water and infrastructure, which are necessary to fully develop the potential of destiny.

Por su parte, el presidente de la Cámara de Turismo de Veraguas, Ángelo Solanilla, dijo: “Este día lo esperábamos desde hace muchos años, que el gobierno de turno diera prioridad a temas de desarrollo turístico en el interior y esperamos que los ocho puntos estratégicos definidos en el plan maestro sirvan de punta de lanza, para seguir desarrollando otros lugares con tanto potencial que tiene la provincia de Veraguas, rico en biodiversidad y con nueve áreas protegidas cuatro son parques nacionales”.

Infrastructure improvements 
In the PMTS diagnosis, needs were identified for this region, proposing projects that include: fitting out docks, trails, viewpoints, tourist facilities within Santa Catalina beach and El Estero beach, interpretive center on marine life, cycle path and center of joint control with the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), the Ministry of the Environment and the Tourism Police.
Elizabeth Cedeño, from the ATP - BID Executing Unit, stated that for the basic urban and tourist infrastructure in Santa Catalina, potable water supply projects, solid waste management system, improvements in public spaces and inclusive and safe mobility for the visitors, projects aligned with the UN's sustainable development goals.
On land management issues, the ATP Sustainability Office, the Protected Areas and Biodiversity Directorate (DAPB), Coasts and Seas Directorate (DICOMAR) and the Climate Change Directorate (DCC) of the Ministry of the Environment, issued suggestions and comments on climate change issues to be included in the Territorial Organization Plans (POT) that will be developed with the IDB loans.

Additionally, it has been planned to benefit 100 entrepreneurs from Santa Catalina and surrounding communities with training, technical assistance and seed capital, in order to diversify the tourism offer in the area and stimulate the local economy through innovation and strengthening the entrepreneurship. The Municipality of Soná will benefit from training in urban and tourism management, with tools and equipment to improve the conditions of management and use of the tourist resources available to improve the quality of life of its locals.

The national director of Protected Areas and Biodiversity of the Ministry of the Environment, Shirley Binder, announced that in the next two years work will be done in the Coiba National Park, such as improvements to the Gambute Visitor Center, Central Penal Visitor Center, Center Administrative Machete and the rehabilitation of trails.
Among the trails to be rehabilitated are: Cerro Gambute, Los Monos, Los Pozos Termales and Mirador Cocos; The control post on Canales de Afuera island will also be rehabilitated, as well as the shoring of the ruin of the church in the Central Penal.
He also communicated that steps are being taken so that the park has internet service and, together with the Smithsonian, the creation of thematic signs with information, among others, is being coordinated on the whale shark and the protocols for its sighting.
He explained that these works will be in execution for two years while a strategic environmental assessment is being carried out, requested by UNESCO, as Coiba is a World Heritage Site of Humanity; After the strategic environmental elaboration, the largest project would proceed, which is the rehabilitation of Gambute, to have an infrastructure that allows the accommodation of tourists.

Construction of an aerodrome
Regarding the construction of an aerodrome, in Soná, the general director of Civil Aeronautics, Gustavo Pérez, presented the project of the new infrastructure that is managed for the area and indicated that it would be a catalyst for demand that facilitates the arrival of passengers, would reactivate the local economy and commercial development, by allowing faster access to the region.

Economic reactivation from sustainable community tourism
The mission of the ATP included a visit to the community with a tourist vocation of Arrimadero, where a meeting and visit was held in conjunction with the María Auxiliadora Community Base Organization (OBC), a group of women leaders who undertake ocean conservation efforts to maintain the marine resources on which their community restaurant depends. Of this community its geological history stood out, since in the Biomuseo a basalt specimen extracted from this area (Punta San Lorenzo) is shown calculated to be 70 million years old, being considered one of the oldest pieces of the country when it emerged from the ocean.
This visit included the participation of Vicente del Cid from the Mar Viva Foundation, which has trained owners of establishments in the area regarding the importance of reducing the use, sale and delivery of single-use disposable plastics as much as possible. Therefore, the commitment of women in the area was highlighted within the framework of the # ChaoPlásticoDesechable campaign, which seeks to eliminate single-use plastic in Panama.
Pixvae, a community preselected in the community tourism plan, between the ATP and the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism, where the Mar Viva Foundation has also undertaken actions to strengthen development in a sustainable way, was also visited. 
Pixvae will benefit from the tender for a new highway executed by the Ministry of Public Works for a reference price of B / .36 million. This new infrastructure will positively impact the attraction of investments; In this sense, the ATP team visited a new housing project of international investors that is advancing its construction in Pixvae with community integration and a sustainable approach.


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