Annie Young, from the Panamanian Association for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), discussed possibilities of ecotourism with community members on March 31, 2012. Annie encouraged local landowners to consider joint ecotourism partnerships rather than land sales and emphasized the importance of proper management of Isla Iguana as one of the region’s principal tourist attractions.
Ecotourism is a great tool if it is used correctly. If we can learn to integrate social and environmental principles in business models of hotels, restaurants, realtors, tour operators, etc. Pedasi could lead the promotion of a positive development that has benefits for the whole community and could become an example for Panamá as a whole. ~Annie Young
At the event, community comments ranged from discussing how to prevent the destruction of the coral reef at Isla Iguana to asking about what elements are needed to spark the development of ecotourism in a community. Participants emphasized the role that past community organizations, such as the Isla Iguana Foundation, have played in the protection of Isla Iguana Island.
When asked about future topics to pursue as community discussions, Annie Young suggested the following:
In the future, it seems very interesting to me to touch on themes that are indicators of sustainable community, hotel and business productivity. Much is said about touristic certifications, but I think that it would be interesting for a place like Pedasí to start a conversation about ways to identify sustainable productivity and to recognize those products that are truly representative, not just greenwashing! Pedasi could become a perfect model for Panama.