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The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) is planning to open a training center in the community of Ojo de Agua, Almirante, Bocas del Toro province, at the end of the year.
The entrepreneur Cesar Romero, who donated the premises for the center which will offer courses in hospitality, customer service and tourism among others, he said: “the idea is for the residents of this community and nearby areas to be trained, so they can work in the tourism industry and be the main beneficiaries of it.”
The training courses will be dictated by specialized staff of the ATP Tourist Culture Department together with the National Institute of Human Development and Vocational Training (INADEH) and the Small and Medium Enterprise Authority (AMPYME), who are the organizations that are developing the strategies and the modules of the programs.
The businessman pointed that there is a perception that the tourists that comes to Bocas del Toro are only interested in beaches, but when he comes to Almirante he encounters a zone with great natural attractions and hotels , where he can enjoy a complete experience.
He added that Bocas del Toro is the home of a unique hybrid bird (a cross between Golden Neck Manakin and the White Neck Manakin), which the locals call the Manakin of Almirante, that has been observed by scientists who study the behavior of these incredible birds.
Due to the variety of species that inhabit the mountains of the region, the entrepreneur recommended that the training should include courses in geography, flora and fauna of the region.
Valle El Rey, is in the area of Nance de Risco, in Almirante, has the complete package for the nature lover tourist: different species of birds, animals, plants, five waterfalls and mountains. However it has been impossible to exploit the ecological tourism, because the inhabitants are not trained to offer the service.
That is the opinion of Fermin Abrego, community leader and Enildo López, of El Valle del Rey, who came to a meeting arranged by the ATP to discuss the training center with entrepreneurs and residents.
Abrego said that the region has enough infrastructure to accommodate visitors. “Tourists who are coming to the area are in search of adventure and pure air unfortunatley they have not been able to appreciate the natural beauty hidden in the mountains, because we do not have trained guides, and for that reason we appreciate the interest of the ATP in this matter.”
Specifically in Almirante, European tourists are arriving interested in good paths for bird watching sites and getting to know the indigenous culture. They have also shown interest in taking boat tours to the Chan 75 Dam, located in the forest of Palo Seco, Bocas del Toro.
The trip to go to the dams covers the communities of Guayabal, Changuinola Arriba, Playita, where waterfalls, vegetation and fauna can be seen.
It is expected that the training center will be operating soon.