‘As travelers, we’re moving away from the idea that everything has to be five stars.’ — Jaime Cornejo, Panama Tourism Authority
In Panama and Costa Rica, cultivating agritourism
By Mario Correa
To the abundant sun and crystalline beaches that typify their small Central American nation, tourism officials in Panama re working hard to add a decidedly different calling card: cows. And not just cows, but a full range of agricultural offer- ings — from pineapple fields to banana farms, chicken coops
to coffee plantations — that might soon make Panama a player in the
growing field of “agritourism.”
Costa Rica has seen steady growth in agritour demand.
“There really is tremendous promise for
agricultural tourism,” said Jaime Cornejo,
director of planning and development for
the Panama Tourism Authority.
PHO TO B Y MARIO CORREA
And Cornejo and his colleagues are betting that they can persuade enterprising
travelers to look to Panama for their rural
getaways. To that end, Panama’s Tourism
Authority and Ministry of Agriculture have
stepped up an initiative to ensure the quality of the nation’s farm-based offerings and
to promote those offerings more widely.
Under the program, working farms that
also provide tourist services, which can be
as basic as field tours and horseback rides
or as extensive as overnight accommoda-
tions and organic meals, are eligible to ap-
ply for a two-year certification of quality.
Properties that pass inspection are certified
and placed on government-published agri-
tourism maps. To date, 105 fincas have been
certified, and 35 of these are farms that pro-
vide overnight accommodations.
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