Early in the 21st century, we realized that if we were to continue having a thriving tourism industry, things had to change. Many tourism companies, resorts, and other key players in the tourism industry began shifting from traditional modes of tourism to what is commonly known as “eco-tourism,” a mode of travel and visiting that emphasizes sustainability, reduced environmental impact, and participation in the local culture. Visitors who are interested in an eco-tourism experience in Panama have a wealth of options to choose from.

Travel: For traveling in a less environmentally harmful way, choose an airline or purchase an add-on service that allows you to use carbon offsets for your air travel. Air travel is one of the greatest travel-related contributors to greenhouse gases, so reducing your carbon impact is key. Once you arrive in Panama, look for tour companies or vehicles that offer hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, or vehicles that run on biofuel.

Accommodations: When choosing where you’re going to stay, look for facilities that are built from local, sustainable materials and integrated into the landscape around them. Instead of staying in a gleaming high-rise filled with chrome and glass, choose cottages in the forest. Look into how your accommodations manage their landscaping, whether they contribute to the local community, and where they source ingredients for their meals.

Excursions: There are lots of companies offering tours and adventures throughout Panama, so look for companies whose guides are trained naturalists or otherwise specially educated in how to protect the natural world they’re bringing groups into. Seek out companies that are careful to keep visitors on trails and don’t bring back specimens from the ocean or forest.

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