After the toppling of General Noriega’s military regime in 1989, Panama returned to democracy. Under president Guillermo Endara Galimany, all democratic institutions were restored. He’s considered “the president of democracy” in this country. That was his most outstanding legacy.
One of President’s Endara’s numerous contributions, was organizing the groundwork for tourism in Panama. He was convinced that this industry without smoke could rake in more greenbacks than the exportation of bananas or services of the Panama Canal. He was right on both assumptions.
When I was working for the Panama Bureau of Tourism—1983-1985—(Instituto Panameño de Turismo), we worked really hard to come up with a ten-year tourist plan. It was called Plan Maestro de Turismo (Tourism Master Plan). We were assisted by tourist experts from the Organization of American States, OEA, (Organización de Estados Americanos). It was a wonderful plan which created the foundation of today’s prospering tourist industry in this country known as Panamá, Puente del Mundo, Corazón del Universo, Espejo de las Américas (Panama, Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe, Mirror of the Americas).
Today, Panama is the leading tourist destination spot for Central and South American visitors. Due to its airline’s commercial hub, thousands of visitors travel from all over Central and South America to buy in Panama. Our Free Zone and lush stores are the best in the region, rivaling those in the United States and Europe both in quality and price.
David, Boquete, Isla Colón and Pedasí are the sweet spots for international tourism. Panama has broken the landmark of one million visitors a year and has surpassed Costa Rica in ecotourism. Colon is the home port for Carnival Cruises which organizes ocean cruises to Cartagena, Aruba, and Bermuda at competitive prices. This is bringing in more tourists to start their Caribbean cruises from Panama.
The Panama Canal, the ruins of Panama Viejo, Portobelo, and the Casco Viejo are flooded by tourists with their P&S camera’s in hand taking pictures to their heart’s content. Wave surfing at Playa Venado is becoming an international sporting event. We are in the middle of a tourism boom, and the Panamanian people are smiling all the way to the bank.
If you feel that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, torrid heat and other weather hazards are making your life miserable, hop into a plane and head South to Panama. It will be a decision you will never forget. Come on down, come to Panama. Good Day.