TCR Strategic Alliance

A Report from the Conference on
"Heritage Tourism for the Next Millenium"

And its Symposium on
"The Challenge of Experience-Management:
Linking Quality with Sustainability"

Panama City, Panama
December 2-4, 1998

Conference Coordinator:
Dr. Hana Ayala

Panama Tourism Bureau
National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
City of Knowledge


Edited by: Marina S. Ratchford, AAAS



The co-organizers of the conference and symposium wish to thank the following sponsors for their kind financial support to such events:

Republic of Panama, Office of the President
Panama Tourism Bureau (IPAT)
Gamboa Tropical Rainforest Resort

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Interoceanic Region Authority (ARI)

American Airlines; La Prensa

Miramar Inter-Continental Panama

and the Panama Canal Commission.

The editor also wishes to acknowledge Dr. Hana Ayala’s leadership in the development of the TCR concept and the organization of the conference and symposium, as well as Cesar Tribaldos and Cecilia Perez Balladares for their support and commitment to these events. The editor wishes to thank Prof. Terry De Lacy, Dr. Theodore Panayotou and Drs. James and Carol Hodgson for contributing their papers to this report. The following people are recognized for their kind assistance in the preparation of this report: Georgina de Alba; Gilberto Alemancia; Lisa Barnett; William Harp; Erik Wolfschoon; and most specially, Dr. Phil Young.




Section 1 – Introducing the Tourism-Conservation-Research Strategic Alliance


PART A: Keynote Speeches

  • His Excellency Ernesto Perez Balladares
  • Cesar Tribaldos
  • Hana Ayala
  • Richard Nicholson
  • Frank Gehry
  • Ira Rubinoff
  • Jorge Arosemena

PART B: Panama’s Heritage Routes

  • The Heritage Identity of the Bridge of the World
  • The Saga of the Isthmus
  • The Peaks of Natural Diversity
  • The Route of Gold and Mountain Gems
  • The Harpy Eagle’s Route
  • Route of the Blue Marlin
  • The Coral Path
  • The Bridge of the Quetzals
  • The Pre-Columbian Journey
  • Mythological Landscapes and the Indigenous World
  • Route of the Three Oceans
  • Route of the Sanctuaries of Life
  • The Pearl Route
  • Route of Pirates and Secret Paths
  • The Path of the Trade Winds
  • Route of the Treasures of the Americas
  • The Passage of the Millennium
  • Route of the Southern Sea
  • Camino Real (Royal Road)

PART C: TCR Portfolio of Projects

  • Roberto Eisenmann Jr., Coronado Hotel & Resort
  • Lorenzo Hincapie, Hotel Campestre
  • Alfonso Jaén Conte, Posada Cerro La Vieja
  • Octavio Vallarino Arias, Hotel Marriott
  • Herman Bern, Gamboa Tropical Rainforest Resort
  • Eva Martinez, Sheraton Grand Park Hotel
  • Raul Arias de Para, Canopy Tower
  • Nicolas Ardito Barletta, San Lorenzo

PART D: Executive Decree No. 327

Section 2 – Symposium’s Keynote Presentations and Working Group Discussions

PART A Keynote Presentations by Representatives of the TCR Sectors

  • Roberto Eisenmann, Tourism Sector
  • Mirei Endara, Environment Sector
  • Julio Escobar, Scientific Research Sector
  • Gilberto Alemancia, perspective from an Indigenous Community (paper co-authored with James and Carol Hodgson)

PART B: Scientific Panel

  • “Delivering Strategic Knowledge to a Dynamic Internationally Competitive and Sustainable Tourism Industry”
  • “Economic Dimensions of Heritage Tourism through a Tourism-Conservation-Research Partnership”
  • Notes to Dr. Panayotou’s presentation

PART C: Working Group Discussions

Working Group 1: Engaging Experience-Management with Natural and Cultural Resource Management

  • What are the opportunities and logistics of conservation patronage in the natural and cultural contexts?
  • How can we build strategic alliances with local and indigenous communities based on the reciprocity of benefits, mutual respect and the sharing of native knowledge?
  • How can we energize the local history and culture through the TCR alliance?
  • What are the key challenges for integrating tourism quality with environmental and cultural carrying capacity?
  • How can we integrate the design of quality heritage experiences with the need for community participation and research in sustainable resource management?
  • What kind of monitoring processes must be in place in order to measure the impact of tourism activities upon the natural and cultural resources of the site?

Working Group 2: Infrastructure as a Tool for Invigorating the Value of Natural and Cultural Heritage 125

  • What are the key issues for devising an effective strategy of site selection for sustainable tourism development?
  • What are the defining elements of a national strategy for transportation in an economy driven by heritage tourism?
  • What is the role of architects of international profile in building the cultural prominence of Panama?
  • How can we provide for excellence of experience-management through visual identity and sense of place?
  • Recommendations for Colon-Fort Sherman

Working Group 3: The Art of Heritage Interpretation

  • How can interpretation be used as a catalyst of heritage product development?
  • What is the process needed to develop heritage themes into heritage itineraries?
  • How much capacity building is needed for heritage interpretation?
  • Define the opportunities and logistics for conservation and research patronage using heritage interpretation as a tool
  • How can we maximize the authenticity and educational value of heritage experience within the time and space constraints of the tourist visit?

Section 3 – Summary of Outcomes and Recommendations from the Symposium

  • Priorities for scientific research and conservation activities
  • Scientific Research
  • Conservation Activities
  • Policy guidelines
  • Transfer mechanisms
  • Concluding Notes


Appendix A: Map of Panamá

Appendix B: List of Acronyms

Appendix C: Conference and Symposium Agenda

Appendix D: Working Group Participants


Dr. Hana Ayala*

Conference Coordinator and Consultant to the Government of Panama

International tourism and international ecotourism are merging, with profound implications for engaging major hospitality corporations with advancing sustainable development worldwide. The quality of a destination’s natural and cultural attractions and the quality of the experience of these attractions are now the key factors that motivate international leisure travel and define the competitive strength of the tourism product. This megatrend supplies powerful business reasons for the international tourism and hotel industry to become a strong proponent of conservation worldwide, by developing “ecotourism” opportunities and experiences that comprise both environmental and cultural aspects of a destination. In turn, each country that embraces the economic potential of heritage tourism is courting an unprecedented opportunity for harnessing the business interests of this large industry to transform conservation and scientific research into pivotal economic forces that both protect and stimulate investment. But only if sustainable resource management is brought as a financial incentive and an employment opportunity into the tourist trade can the selling of heritage experiences meet the highest standards of product quality while catalyzing economies that will prosper on sustainability. Developing all heritage-focused tourism as ecotourism is hard-nosed economics, which treats visitor volume as a resource for sustainable development and which conforms as much to the interests of investors as to those of destinations. Sustainable heritage tourism may well be the most momentous and globally meaningful economic opportunity to arise at the threshold of the new millennium.

* Hana Ayala, Ph.D., is president of EcoResorts International—Research & Development, based in Irvine, California


Marina Sansostri Ratchford

Latin America and the Caribbean Project

American Association for the Advancement of Science

This report is a compilation of the keynote presentations at and working group results from the conference on “Heritage Tourism for the Next Millennium” and its symposium on “The Challenge of Experience-Management: Linking Quality with Sustainability,” seeking to highlight both the theoretical and practical aspects of the conference and symposium. These events took place December 2-4, 1998, at the Miramar Inter-Continental Hotel in Panama City, Republic of Panama, launching the flagship Tourism-Conservation-Research (TCR) strategic alliance for the Republic of Panama. The TCR alliance will seek to integrate these key sectors of the economy in a way that can provide sustainable development benefits for the whole country. New development strategies such as the TCR alliance are of timely importance for Panama as the country seeks to identify alternative sources of income that will compensate for the estimated $300 million in annual economic impact that will be lost as a result of the withdrawal of US civilians and military forces at the end of 1999. The TCR initiative could also potentially become a model for the development strategies of other countries of the region and other parts of the world for the 21st century.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) produced this report in collaboration with conference co-organizers, chairs and rapporteurs. The report has been structured in three sections. Section 1 is comprised of the presentations of the first day of the conference, including a description of the components of the TCR formula and several speeches by the President of the Republic of Panama, Dr. Ernesto Perez Balladares, and Panamanian entrepreneurs who expressed their concrete commitment to develop and implement the TCR concept. Although simultaneous translation was provided throughout the conference, all presentations in this report are included in the original language in which they were delivered, with exceptions noted. Section 1 closes with the introduction of the Executive Decree No. 327 that creates the Tourism-Conservation-Research Strategic Alliance Committee as an organism ascribed to the National Council for Sustainable Development.

Sections 2 and 3 of this report deal specifically with the proceedings of the symposium. This symposium was structured around three working groups: “Engaging Experience-Management with Natural and Cultural Resource Management”; “Infrastructure as a Tool for Invigorating the Value of Natural and Cultural Heritage”; and “The Art of Heritage Interpretation”. Each of these groups was composed of participants with a wide range of specialties and backgrounds, which led to very productive sessions, some expected differences in opinions, and the discussion of sensible recommendations. It is important to note that a diverse collection of scientists, conservationists, architects, planners, and tourism industry representatives in the three working groups independently stressed the need to involve local communities in the TCR process from the very beginning and to ensure that benefits flow back to local communities.

Section 2 of this document includes keynote presentations from each of the TCR sectors, a presentation on global efforts to incorporate knowledge into sustainable tourism, a presentation on the economic aspects of the TCR alliance, and a summary of the discussions and recommendations that emanated from each working group. These discussions were guided by a series of thematic and general questions posed to each group.

Section 3 summarizes the final outcome of the symposium’s three objectives. These objectives sought to identify priorities for scientific research and conservation activities that will boost sustainable tourism in Panama; develop policy guidelines to maximize the sustainability of the TCR concept; and establish transfer mechanisms of sustainable tourism benefits among relevant sectors of the economy. Following Section 3, some concluding notes are offered.

As the integration of tourism, conservation and scientific research continues to provide reciprocal benefits in Panama, it is hoped that Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as other regions of the world whose economies heavily depend on the tourism industry, can use the recommendations and findings of this report to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals for the 21st century.