Panama Tourism Authority (Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá, ATP) has joined as a Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) is the government organization that encompasses, encourages, promotes and regulates all tourist-related activities in the Republic of Panama. It is in charge of looking over all touristic activity in the country and has the goal of promoting financial and sustainable growth through the diversification of touristic resources based on a new Tourism Master Plan and its Tourism, Conservation and Research (TCI, for its initials in Spanish) strategy.

Sustainability in Panama

Panama is famous for its 48-mile canal that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. Each year, over a million people visit the canal and are able to witness this engineering marvel at work. Panama is very proud to have this magnificent creation operating 365 days a year, enabling the world’s cargo to be shipped efficiently and safely to new destinations.

Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism

UNESCO has recently highlighted the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025 (PMTS) of Panama for its innovative vision on how to face sustainable tourism for the future. The strategic heart of the plan is the Tourism, Conservation and Research (TCI) strategy, created by Dr. Hana Ayala and implemented in Panama more than 20 years ago, but without continuity; the model was updated by the ATP in the year 2020 to integrate local communities at the center of the model, valuing the country’s conservation and sustainability efforts and its differentiated nature, culture and history offer.

The TCI strategy focuses on creating a virtuous cycle based on the conservation of Panama’s natural and cultural heritage, the scientific research on the country ’s heritage and the development of tourism activities and experiences based on the knowledge generated from research. The economic model focuses on developing specific public policies to incorporate sustainability in tourism by proposing the implementation of projects that support the transition to a green economy, with low emissions and resilient to the climate as well as working with communities to strengthen and preserve the destination’s multicultural identity. By attracting discerning travelers to local communities with rich natural and cultural heritage, not only is there a positive impact on the well-being of communities, but they are also able to shift from less sustainable economic activities such as logging, and others, towards sustainable tourism activities. The TCR strategy also created an interinstitutional alliance between the Panama Tourism Authority, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Culture, National Secretary of Science, Technology and Innovation and other strategic allies that share the country‘s vision.

The strategy was updated to focus on heritage routes on three core areas: Cultural Heritage (multifaceted culture), Green Heritage (unique biodiversity) and Blue Heritage (ocean wonders).

The five-year plan includes an estimated investment of $301.9 million including investments made through the Tourism Promotion Fund (PROMTUR), and supported by an approved loan of $100.0 million for infrastructure and development projects with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

“Panama is satisfied to team up with GSTC, we share an aligned vision of the Sustainable Tourism Development concept, complemented by the preservation of our cultural and natural heritage to create experiences whereby the tourists are connected with authentic attractions and distinguishing a destination whose history from the beginning has a significant impact worldwide,” says the Minister of Tourism of Panama, Ivan Eskildsen.

GSTC Welcomes Panama

“We warmly welcome the Panama Tourism Authority as a new member from Latin America joining our organization. Panama is investing time and resources to strengthen the pillars of sustainable tourism. These are especially important in a country with such unique geography and history,” says Luigi Cabrini, GSTC Chairman.

“We are very glad to join forces with the Panama Tourism Authority to move forward and lead sustainability practices in Latin America. With its strategy focused on Cultural Heritage, Green Heritage, and Blue Heritage, Panama is aiming towards the new traveller. Trabajemos juntos para un destino más sostenible,” says Jorge Moller, GSTC Director for Latin America.

GSTC encourages NTOs and DMOs (destinations) pursuing sustainability practices in development and management of tourism, to join as GSTC members and apply the GSTC Destination Criteria, as well as support local business to apply the GSTC Industry Criteria. Destinations can eventually aim for achieving certification by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body as a sustainable tourist destination.