The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), in alliance with Panama’s Ministry of Environment, has launched the “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project to preserve important ecological trails critical to tourism, ecology and scientific discovery. Created within the framework of the Tourism, Conservation and Research (TCR) strategy of Panama’s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism (PMTS) 2020-2025, this initiative aims to conserve nature and diversify rural economies through the development of the outdoor recreation industry and green tourism in protected areas. It is also aligned with the national government's Colmena Plan, which has among its objectives that marginalized rural communities benefit from economic activities.
“Tourism based on Panama’s Green Heritage is one of the fundamental areas of the economic reactivation strategy and it is incredibly important we create and seek out these opportunities,” said Ivan Eskildsen, Panama’s minister of tourism, in a press statement. “As a result of the pandemic, travelers are looking to make stronger connections with nature and spaces where they can appreciate biodiversity. This project launches the TCR strategy, an innovative model that creates synergies between tourism, conservation, and research to appeal to the preferences of a growing market of conscious travelers.”
There are 125 protected areas in the country, of which 30 percent are terrestrial and 10 percent are coastal marine. The 1,000 kilometers (roughly 620 miles) of trails will cover areas very close to communities and private reserves, which are important for the connectivity of protected areas at the national level. Through this partnership, the Ministry of Environment plans to increase the protected coastal marine areas from 10 percent to 30 percent by the end of 2021.
The first phase of the “1,000 Kilometers of Trails Project" will obtain data on the location and condition of the country's trails, as well as information on the interest and capacity of community groups to incorporate themselves into a recreation and tourism economy. In Phase Two, the information gathered will be used to develop and validate work and training plans.
"Protected areas, private reserves, roads between rural communities, beaches, mangroves, among others, contain a myriad of recreational and tourist attractions, but they require infrastructure. Therefore, a multisectoral effort is needed to improve them," said Adrian Benedetti, coordinator of the “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project with the ATP's product development department.“The project will begin with local volunteers who wish to support the maintenance of these infrastructures, thus opening the way for the growth of Panama's recreational and tourism sector.”
This partnership is another area showcasing how Panama is activating on the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism, which is committed to innovation and sustainability, highlighting Panama's natural and cultural heritage. To this end, the TCR’s heritage trails strategy was updated to focus on three core areas: Cultural Heritage, Green Heritage (biodiversity) and Blue Heritage (marine).