There is increased investor interest in developing tourism projects in the interior of Panama. Some of the most interesting provinces with the largest increase in developments are Cocle, the second tourist destination, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro. For this reason in the Government’s Strategic Plan for 2010 to 2014 an investment of 800 million will be destined to improving the infrastructure in the different provinces.
All businesses planning on getting involved in the tourism industry must request an operation permit from the Panama Tourism Authority which in 2009 granted 29 operation permits versus the 14 it issued in 2008. This does not mean that only 29 new tourism businesses opened up in 2009. It just indicates that these are the ones that sought operations permits from the Tourism Authority for the exemptions it grants depending on the type of business. The Tourism Authority has also indicated that it expects 2010 to be quite prosperous and to generate new investments although it did not reveal the source or amount of investments.
Special interest is being placed in some provinces which naturally seem to attract tourists. These natural destinations are the ones getting greater investment in order to consolidate their attractiveness and what they can deliver to tourists. Cocle is one of these provinces. Cocle is where several large resort chains have set up such as Breezes, Decameron, Playa Blanca and Nikki Beach. Currently there are 3,000 rooms available in this province and within a couple of months 2,000 more will be available according to Mr. Alberto Quirós Jaen, President of the Tourism Association of Cocle and Bocas del Toro.
Cocle is attractive because it is not very far from Panama City and has a diversity of tourism offerings such as mountains, beaches, ecotourism along with adventure tourism. Bocas del Toro on the other hand, a very popular tourist spot, is considered by Mr. Jaen a fragile destination due to environmental characteristics, therefore any tourism plan must bear sustainability in mind the ecological cause and effects.
This renewed interest from investors in the interior of the country is not only limited to lodging and rooms but to services that support tourism as well. A clear example of this is the fact that local airline Aeroperlas recently implemented a flight to Pedasi, located in the Central Provinces area from the City of Panama. Pedasi is already known for its beautiful beaches and wonderful scenery in an untouched setting. Prior to the flight from Aeroperlas the only way to get there was driving and it was several hours drive. With the new flight the area becomes a lot more accessible.
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