TORONTO — Planeterra, the non-profit offshoot of G Adventures and the global leader in community tourism enterprise development, has teamed up with the Panama Government, in partnership with the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), Fundación Natura, for a joint venture, ‘PACT’, to work with communities across Panama to build community tourism experiences that improve the well-being of residents, visitors, and the environment.
The partnership aims to reposition Panama as a destination focused on cultural immersion experiences for travellers that leave a positive footprint on the country in terms of supporting local people and businesses, and ensures traveller dollars stay in-destination, says Jamie Sweeting, President of Planeterra.
“Planeterra is excited to work with APTSO, Fundación Natura and the Ministry of Tourism to launch this groundbreaking community tourism initiative,” says Sweeting.
“We look forward to bringing Planeterra’s proven approach to empowering community-led tourism to Panama and, in the process, strengthening local partners to lead this initiative forward,” he adds.
The partners involved in the PACT initiative plan to work closely with at least 10 communities and their tourism enterprises in order to assist them with income diversification, product development, and customer service.
Long-term sustainability will be a focus for the initiative’s pilot projects, which will include training local counterparts in Planeterra’s successful community-led tourism development methodology and local communities in all aspects of the tourism value chain, including business planning, regenerative agriculture and resiliency building in order to ensure each community is set up for success.
“The PACT partners share a vision for using proven solutions to put host communities at the heart of tourism in Panama,” explained Annie Young, president of the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO).
“Through close collaboration, we can achieve the goals of the Tourism Vision 2025 of the Panama Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and become globally recognized as a world-class sustainable tourism destination while supporting the wellbeing of our communities.”
Ivan Eskildsen, the Panamanian Minister of Tourism, calls the project “a major break-through.”
Adds Eskildsen: “In our Master Plan, we have prioritized the development of tourism experiences focused on the ‘discerning traveller’, a global trend that is demanding more and more authentic experiences that benefit local communities, and their surrounding environment. We are excited that PACT will accelerate the implementation of this strategy, with local and global partners that will help Panama consolidate world-class community tourism experiences, that showcase the extraordinary wealth of our natural and cultural heritage.”