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The Ministry of the Environment and the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) announced that this year $1.2 million were invested in the Green Tourism program, which seeks to provide amenities in nine national parks. This project is creating an action plan to develop sustainable tourism in protected areas.
Indra Candanedo, the spokeswoman for the project said “we are very happy with the interagency work we are doing with the Panama Tourism Authority, the Panama Tourism Chamber and other local and international non-profit organizations, that are part of the Ecotur-AP project to develop green tourism in the country.”
“In order for the strategy to be successful, it is important to include communities and the private sector in the project. There is already a draft of the norms about how to provide and manage tourism services in the protected areas, such a guides, basic accommodation and catering services, and sale of handicraft among others. Another regulation book will be written to manage concessions that will allow the private sector to invest in protected areas within a clear rules framework”.
The Green Tourism project also plans to provide basic infrastructure in nine protected areas, starting with the Soberania National Park, which is close to Panama City; the Volcan Baru National Park, in Chiriqui province and Coiba National Park in Veraguas province.
Candanedo said that by the first quadrimester of 2016, the service standards and eco-touristic infrastructure should be ready, allowing biodiversity conservation, in a way that will permit employment generation with the involvement of the community and the private sector.”
The project Ecotur-AP is being financed by the Global Environment Fund at a cost of $4 million and it is managed by the Interamerican Development Bank in Panama. Its implementation will show the enormous and varied natural richness of the country. These new international tourism trends will allow visitors to explore the country’s interior, including the Indigenous and coastal areas.
Panama is looking to promote this new alternative of “ecotourism” as part of a new tourism offer for local and foreigners, so more people get to know protected areas, aiding their conservation, while at the same generating income for their care and benefiting the nearby communities.