The Panama Tourism Authority and the Competitiveness Centre of the Western Region (“CECOMRO”) of Panama recently signed an agreement to promote the Coffee Circuit throughout Panama in order to stimulate tourism and kick-start the region’s economy. The plan is part of the wider Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025 and will include 42 coffee plantations in Chiriquí, Tierras Altas, Boquete and Gualaca.
Felipe Ariel Rodríguez, president of CECOMRO, said that 189 tourism experiences in the region could also benefit from the Coffee Circuit initiative. Rodríguez affirmed that the tourism plan would bring a significant inflow of private capital although CECOMRO is yet to specify the economic impact that the Coffee Circuit is expected to generate.
Rodríguez also provided additional details on this initiative, “The agreement between the Tourism Authority of Panama and the Board of Directors of the Coffee Circuit formed by 10 producer organisations and companies in the region, formalises a robust public-private alliance. The first resources will be available from June. We have identified 42 agrotourism farms with the capacity to offer touristic products and more than 50 complementary services that include lodging, gastronomy, transportation and tour operators.”
“We have identified 42 agrotourism farms with the capacity to offer touristic products and more than 50 complementary services.”
Felipe Ariel Rodríguez, president of CECOMRO, Panama
The next step in the implementation of the initiative is to close partnerships between private companies operating both coffee and tourism businesses and CECOMRO, which will coordinate, market and sponsor promotion efforts. Some of the initial promotional events include coffee production workshops and indigenous cultural identity hikes.
Although the plan does not initially include international collaboration, the promotion of the Coffee Circuit will be jointly coordinated between CECOMRO and the International Fund for the Promotion of Tourism in Panama (“PROMTUR”). The mid-term aim of these institutions is to include the Coffee Circuit in the agritourism route in Central America, emphasising how indigenous communities play a crucial role in the coffee value chain.
The owner of a coffee farm on the Coffee Circuit in Panama had already been in touch with his colleagues in Costa Rica, “The opportunities are exciting and in the case of our neighbouring country Costa Rica, we have already had contact with communities in the southern area in the canton of Coto Brus. Without a doubt, this project will enrich the tourism sector in both countries.”
The initiative has been met with widespread support across the whole tourism industry and also with the rural communities, as the coffee farm owner observed, “So far, we have found only enthusiasm and willingness from fellow coffee producers. Also, other producers have expressed their interest in being taken into account in the project, including artisans, gardeners, farmers, beekeepers and even cheese producers. I do not think there is a risk of rejection or opposition since the producers and the people who work on their farms see that this project will generate greater benefits for them.”
“So far, we have found only enthusiasm and willingness from fellow coffee producers.”
Owner, coffee farm, Panama
The tourism official did not anticipate any problems, “The possibilities that the communities oppose the impulse of the Coffee Circuit are very low since, within the touristic offer, is considered the Rural Community Tourism that includes the communities as the main beneficiaries by promoting their natural and cultural attractions, archaeological attractions, events etc.”