Over the summer, the National Tourism Ministry (IPAT) hung a big banner with a photo of Puerto Armuelles from an overpass.
Emblazoned across the banner were the words, “Visit Puerto Armuelles“
We spotted it hanging from an overpass on the InterAmericana between David and Pasa Canoas.
Tourism Office Opens in Puerto Armuelles
In September, IPAT opened up an office of Tourism in Puerto Armuelles. The new tourism office is located in the Super Yen mini mall, which is across the street from San Antonio Catholic Church and school in downtown Puerto Armuelles.
With the opening of the first IPAT offices here in Puerto Armuelles, the Tourism Ministry obviously wants to make itself more accessible to tourists in Puerto Armuelles. This is excellent news for Puerto.
Any government program to promote Puerto Armuelles is welcome. For years, the town has been sort of the “Cinderella” step-child of Panama—a secret beauty who has been kept hidden in a dark corner of the kitchen.
Tourism Ministry’s Plans
The Tourism Ministry says that it is stepping up efforts to promote tourism in order to create jobs for Panamanians in Puerto Armuelles.
Their technique, in the short term at least, is to invite local business owners to set up tables at the next Puerto Armuelles fair. The ideas is that these business owners will advertise and sell directly to the public.
They have encouraged all interested parties to reach out to folks in other parts of Panama, particularly in Chiriqui, to connect with the already developed tourist areas such as Boquete and Volcan.
3 Meetings To Plan Tourism Effort
On a Wednesday afternoon in September, the Panamanian Ministry of Tourism (IPAT) hosted a meeting of local hotel and restaurant owners, and anyone else interested in talking about how to promote tourism here in Puerto Armuelles.
It is a wonderful coincidence that this meeting took place the same week that Heavenly’s Hotel was sold to a group of hoteliers/tourism promoters from Boquete.
I went to the meeting. There were perhaps 25 of us at the meeting, half from IPAT, and half local business owners.
The 2nd meeting of the group was at the fair grounds, where participating businesses have been asked to come and decide where they would like to put their display booths, any new ideas, etc. (I did not attend that meeting since we don’t plan on having a booth.)
In total, there are to be 3 of these planning meetings to gather ideas from local businesses and open up an ongoing dialogue.
Stop Litter to Increase Tourism
There were 2 local expat businesses present at the 1st meeting, including myself. We each had the same suggestion.
We need an ongoing campaign to encourage Portenos to stop being such “litter bugs”.
In short, litter hurts tourism.
This message was recognized by the committee, and was talked about at length.
Anti-Litter Radio Campaign
Coincidentally, I had just gone to the local radio station, Radio Mi Preferida, earlier that same day to discuss the same issue, litter. I asked the station to donate air time as part of a campaign to educate local people about the negative economic and environmental impact of littering.
Fortunately, the owner of the radio station, Professor Mora, was also at the tourism meeting that afternoon.
Professor Mora heard the plea for a new no-littering radio campaign. If I don’t get a chance to see him this afternoon, I will stop by the radio station within the next week or so and see how he plans to help out.
Education Key To Stop Litter
Litter is a problem all over Panama; not just in Puerto Armuelles.
It is easy to keep it under control on the beaches, just with a few minutes a day of “litter patrolling” by local hotels and home owners with beach property.
However, if we want to get at the root of the problem, we have to start with education. It is hard to get anyone to change their old habits. I think a educational radio campaign is the ideal place to start. Most locals listen to Radio Mi Preferida on a daily basis. And often for most of the day.
To be honest, I missed the 1st hour of the meeting on Wednesday. I was attending the regular Wednesday expat social hour at the new Big Daddy’s Beach Resort and Hotel. So I am not sure if there had been any talk about Internet advertising of tourism in Puerto.
For those of you reading this this online post, you are probably aware that the Internet is an excellent way to communicate quickly to an audience. However, as with government programs in any country (think the US Postal Service), change in Panama is slow.
My guess is that it will take some time before tourism here in Puerto Armuelles is extensively promoted online by the government.
At this time, Puerto Armuelles is not even mentioned on the Panama’s tourism website: visitpanama.com. Of course, Boquete, Volcan, and Pedasi are not mentioned on Panama’s Tourism website either. Although, their site does include information on Bocas del Tour, Panama City, and other places.
Help The Tourism Ministry
The good news is that we are here to pass the word along for them!
If we can assist the Ministry of Tourism to help get Puerto Armuelles “rockin” again, we are all in!
(I am sure that this is the unanimous feeling among all local business owners.)
Thanks for reading,