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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 12:40 PM EDT

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Rates to Guatemala and Panama get affordable

Travel & TourismBy Clara Bosonetto For the AJC - A pair of special airfare rates from American Airlines to two popular Central American destinations are more affordable than a trip to California. So why not change up your next getaway and head south of the border at super affordable rates.

For instance, a round-trip fare to Guatemala City, Guatemala is $338.40, inclusive of all taxes and fees (a round-trip ticket from ATL to Los Angeles is $353.60). This special price is valid on trips taken seven days a week, based on sale seat availability and through Nov. 15. To qualify, give a two-week or more advance notice of travel. A minimum stay of any two nights is required.

A second destination on this sale is Panama City, Panama at $378.40 round-trip (round-trip airfare to Salt Lake City, Utah is $457.60).

Additionally, these low rates are about $200 per round-trip less expensive than published rates on other carriers.

This exclusive sale rate permits one free stopover in Miami en route to Central America. A stopover is considered four or more hours. It's become rare for airlines to offer the free stopover option. It's a nice way to get a two-for-one vacation (airport transfers, hotel, transportation and other expenses during the stopover are not included).

American has filed an Aug. 27 ticket-by date on these offers, but don't fall for it. If you're interested, act now. I suspect this offer will expire sooner.

Sale airfares are always subject to change. Every seat on every flight is not offered at the lowest rate. Since only a limited supply of seats is available, act quickly to make your purchase.

I recommend starting the search for available seats at Kayak.com vs. calling an airline directly. You can also search for the sale at travel websites such as Expedia or Travelocity, etc.

Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

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The Strengths And Weaknesses of Isla Coiba

Travel & TourismThe implementation of Management Plan for the Coiba National Park (CNP) is a very complex action because it requires the participation of all sectors involved. Within the Board there are some who have a vote, and other who only have a voice, which is why they lose interest in attending the meetings held from time to time in different parts of our country. The Management Plan of the Coiba National Park is the managerial guidance document that includes goals, standards, guidelines, possible uses, actions and strategies to be followed within the protected area, which is a Natural Heritage of Humanity, adopted by UNESCO. The comprehensive planning process developed involved the technical analysis of natural resources, consideration of the management category assigned to the protected area, the potential, and problems encountered with the dynamic participation of different stakeholders.

Gradually implemented - Evidelio Adames, a member of the Board for the University of Panama and on behalf of the Regional University Center of Veraguas (CRUV), considered that the management plan is not implemented ideally, because the biggest obstacle is the lack of resources suitable for operation. The university professor said that thanks to the institutional effort by the PNC, which is very complex, it has the support of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), Mar Viva Foundation, the University of Panama, the local mayors, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), and lately, the Naval Air Service (Senan), which maintains a naval base that contributes to the safety and security of the protected area, covering 537 km2 of land area and 2,024 km2 of sea surface.

In addition, Senacyt provides resources and equipment for scientific research within this natural jewel on the Veragüense Pacific. Evaluation of the Management Plan will be made in 2014, five years after it has been implemented, to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Meanwhile, Santiago Rojas, a manager of PNC, said the 37 buoys are to protect the ecosystem to maintain the reefs in the different marine areas, which is why companies involved in the transfer of tourists for diving should moor their boats to these devices and avoid heavy anchors from touching the seabed.

Data -

  • Annually about 7,700 tourists visit Coiba.
  • It is beautiful with pristine beaches, and if anyone dares, there are even nude beaches.
  • It has a naval base that cost nearly $2 million dollars to build.
  • There is water 24 hours a day.
  • There are 37 areas of diving and safety buoys for boats.
  • There are six cabins equipped for 12 people each.
  • There are several routes to reach this natural site: Puerto Mutis, Santa Catalina, Playa Banco, Mariato, and by plane from Santiago and Panamá.
  • The infrastructure dates back 40 years and every day it is deteriorating.
  • There are only eleven park rangers who alternate their shifts every 15 days for the ecological and marine patrol.
  • The park has an annual budget of only $60,000 dollars.
  • Tourists have to land on the beach because there is no dock.
  • The trails are neglected due to lack of maintenance. (Mi Diario)
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    Panama Should Create Tourism Schools

    Travel & TourismJaime Campuzano, President of the National Tourism Council, suggested today on the channel 2 TVN morning news program, that free public schools should be created in the interior of the country to teach Tourism, and the National Assembly should approve incentives for the development of tourism in these regions. Campuzano also recommended that high schools teaching tourism should emphasize the technical side (maids, bell boys) and the universities should focus their attention on hotel management. He believes that although Panamanians are cheerful and spontaneous by nature, they don't meet up with international standards. (TVN)

    Editor's Comment: I just got back from a trip to Costa Rica. As we came out of the airport we had to find a shuttle bus to take us to the rental car company. There were literally people tripping over themselves trying to help us. One guy broke out into a run (I looked for someone with a gun who might have been chasing him) but in fact he was going to a pay phone to call the cell phone of the shuttle bus driver, to get an update on his status, location, and how long we would have to wait. Every Panamanian who works in the tourism industry should simply take a trip to Costa Rica, to see how it "should" be done. Panamanians are only cheerful, happy, and spontaneous when they're drunk. The rest of the time they're grouchy, surly, angry, and generally unhappy. Those two chicks in the photo are in Costa Rica. See how happy they are? Yeah. More like that. Take notes...

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    National Crafts Fair Opens at Atlapa

    Travel & TourismThe XXXV National Crafts Fair was opened yesterday at the ATLAPA convention center by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano. The organization of the show has cost approximately $200,000 and approximately 1,200 artisans are participating from around the country. The National Director of Handcrafts of the MICI, Damaris Delgado de Tribaldos, said the activity will have 500 tables, 65 workshops, 22 craft stalls for consumption, with 15 vendors selling food and another 43 food sites located in the lobby. It is expected that about 45 thousand people will visit the fair. (Siglo)

    Editor's Comment: This is always one of the "coolest" shows at ATLAPA every year. You can find all kinds of stuff there, made by talented hands. You'll see some stuff you're probably already familiar with like molas, and some other stuff you've never seen before. If anyone knows the hours, please post in the comments section. Thanks.

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    52% OFF Banana's Village Resort, Isla Grande

    Travel & TourismOfertaSimple.com always features amazing deals on local Panama restaurants, hotels, and activities. Today, there's a special treat in store for those of you looking for a pure Caribbean escape. Enjoy a beautiful ocean view room with balcony, breakfast and welcome cocktail at Banana's Village Resort on Isla Grande at 52% OFF. Banana's Resort is located just 90 minutes from the city, but is a true world apart.

    Click here to view the offer: www.ofertasimple.com

    As always, OfertaSimple is available in English as well as in Spanish. The customer service team is bilingual and is happy to help answer any and all questions related to the deals. Purchase these deals now and use anytime over the next 3-6 months, depending on the offer.

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    Panama Travel Unlimited - One Of Panama's Leading Tour and Travel Agencies

    Travel & Tourism
    Dog Island in the San Blas Archipelago
    Dog Island in the San Blas Archipelago
    Panama Travel Unlimited opened it’s door’s less than a year ago and has fast become one of Panama’s leading tour and travel agencies. After spending a number of years living, working and owning businesses in the Panamanian tourism sector two expats, Will from Wales and Stuart from Australia, noticed there was a real need for a full service tour and travel agency providing the quality and levels of customer service foreign visitors to Panama expect while maintaining reasonable prices. Panama Travel Unlimited initially opened offering a budget friendly Panama City airport shuttle service and from there started operating day tours in and around Panama City to some of Panama’s premier tourist attractions such as the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, Portobelo, Isla Grande, Fuerte San Lorenzo, El Valle and the beautiful Pacific coast beaches. Once the Panama City shuttle service and Panama Pity day tours were up and running the next logical step was to develop tours in the beautiful San Blas islands of Panama. (more)
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    New Ferry Between Colon and Cartagena Will Increase Tourism

    Travel & Tourism
    New Ferry From Colon Panama to Cartagena Colombia Nissos Rodos Main Cabin
    New Ferry From Colon Panama to Cartagena Colombia Nissos Rodos Main Cabin
    A new way to promote tourism in Panama is the ferry trip to Cartagena in Colombia, said the Administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Solomon Shamah. According to Shamah, the ferry has a capacity for 1,600 passengers, 250 cars at a cost of $ 99 per person. (See Comment) Shamah added the ferry will leave from the Port of Colon 2000 and will travel to the port of Cartagena in Colombia. "I do not know the exact days when trips will be taken, but it will go three times a week," he said on News AM. On another issue, Shamah said they have already approved the act for the construction of a new convention center, and they asked for some changes so that most companies can participate in the bidding. (Panama America)

    Editor's Comment: The posted price is $99 per seat, but there will be additional taxes of about $95 dollars, bringing the most basic seat up to about $194 round trip - still cheaper than an airplane. You will depart from Colon at about 6:00 pm and arrive just after dawn the next morning in Cartagena. All seats are round-trip. The following was posted to the Americans in Panama Yahoo email group:

    • "The new ferry has a hotel, bar, stores, a theater, two restaurants, as well as a lobby and open areas to enjoy. The departures are from Colon on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from Cartagena on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Only round trip tickets can be purchased - it's not possible to buy a one-way ticket. Reservations are valid for 48 hours until payment is made. Food and beverages are not included in the price of the ticket. Meals can be requested for an additional $40 per person, which is additional to the ticket fare, and it includes a dinner and breakfast buffet both ways for this price. It is very important to point out when you board the ferry you must leave a $50 deposit, money that can be used at the bar or the store on-board. Children under 2 years of age only pay the taxes - those aged three and above pay the regular fare. Travel documents required are: for Panamanians, a current passport with at least 6 months validity. For foreign residents, a current passport and immigration card according to law. Foreign tourists; current passport and immigration status according to law (economic solvency at the time of entering Panamanian territory and an airplane ticket back to Colombia). Luggage: two suitcases per person with a maximum weight of 50 pounds each. If the luggage weights more than 50 pounds there will be a charge of $35 dollars to be paid at the port. The Ferry has three different options: Cabins, Dorms (standard, deluxe, suite or presidential suite) and Pullman Seats (coach, standard, deluxe) according to the fares. Payment can be made with check, cash, or credit card. A 3% surcharge will be added if payment is made with a credit card.
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    Now Tourists From 36 Countries No Longer Need Visas To Enter Panama

    Travel & TourismThey can now come for fun or to do business. Tourists from 36 countries can now enter Panama without having to first obtain a visa, thanks to Executive Decree 326 of May 8, 2012 published in Official Gazette. Foreigners from these countries can now enter Panama as tourists, and they only need to apply for a Tourist Card from the National Immigration Service, which will cost $50 dollars. The countries benefiting from this decree were: Angola, Armenia, Belarus, Botswana, Kingdom of Bhutan, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Comoros, Croatia, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Marshall Islands Salmon, Kiribati, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Independent State of Samoa, Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Vanuatu and Vietnam. (Critica)

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    Boquete Family Escape: Cabañas El Parador 53% OFF

    Travel & TourismFor the next 7 days, OfertaSimple.com (available in both English and Spanish) is offering 53% OFF the ultimate family getaway –the Orchid cabaña at Cabañas El Parador, Boquete. Buy now and redeem anytime over the next 6 months. Sleeps up to eight comfortably.

    OfertaSimple.com launched just over a year ago and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, it’s no surprise the website already counts 126,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Past deals have included over 50% off at Royalton Resort, Playa Blanca Resort, Restaurante LaMar, Os Segredos Da Carne, Canal & Bay Cruises, Maná concert tickets, and Hotel Mandarinos in El Valle, to name a few.

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    Panama Is The Top Travel Destination For Costa Rican Tourists

    Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - An article appearing on the Inside Costa Rica website today says the majority of Costa Rican tourists selected Panama as their travel destination. According to the article, "Of the 717,000 Costa Ricas who left the country last year, many headed for Panama, according to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) and the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (immigration service). The figures show that 208,400 or 30% headed south to Panama." See the full article at: Panama Top Destination For Costa Ricans

    Tourism in Panama Continues To Grow: Last year Panama saw more than 2 million tourists for the first time. Panama's tourism authorities continue to work to attract new visitors from every conceivable market. And the Panama tourism market will also be getting a big boost this year, thanks to a recent change implemented by the IRS. See: US Companies Can Now Write Off Expenses For Conventions and Seminars Held In Panama (IRS). And it's somewhat ironic that Costa Rican citizens are coming to Panama as tourists, because the two countries basically compete as relatively similar destinations for international tourists. Tourism in Costa Rica has traditionally been much more developed than in Panama, a trend which is changing. And if Costa Ricans are coming to Panama as tourists, then what does that tell you?

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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