Meet Sandrine and the team from Les Tucayettes, your local connection in Panama. We are excited about working with whl.travel to offer you access to the incredible beauty and natural and cultural diversity of this young country, while maintaining our philosophy of sustainable, responsible, and respectful tourism. Panama is growing fast as a tourism destination and our goal is to give you an insider's look while fostering the numerous, small, community-based tourism projects that will help preserve and protect this amazing bit of the world for generations to come.
Who we are
Sandrine is a French women who has adopted and likewise been adopted by Panama. She and her dear friend, Chrystel, began working to promote tourism here eight years ago. They joined WHL's world-wide network as Les Tucayettes to offer Panama's treasures to the independent traveller. But, in a devastating turn of events, Chrystel was killed in the massive Haiti earthquake on January 12th; she will be sorely missed, please learn more about this amazing woman below.
In 2001, Project Tucaya, with offices in Caracas and Paris, was founded to open up new destinations to independent and group travellers in the French-speaking market. Sandrine had been working with the French embassy on a focus of European tourism in Central America and then joined Chrystel and the Tucaya team. The tourism industry was in its infancy in Panama and both Chrystel and Sandrine lived the beginning of its development while working on the project. Chrystel moved to the US to study Sustainable Destination Management and returned to Panama to work as a tourism development consultant. Then, Chrystel and Sandrine and Les Tucayettes joined forces as WHL partners.
What we do for the region
Panama is an impressively diverse country , especially given its relatively small size - lush jungles, sandy beaches, a wealth of wildlife, a fascinating multicultural mix, and some very unique indigenous cultures . Kuna Yala is one of the world's few remaining indigenous independent territories. Visit a Kuna or Embera community and experience another culture where man and nature coexist in harmony.
We are dedicated to a tourism that respects these authentic socio-cultural communities, minimises environmental impact, and simultaneously helps share the wealth in a country where rampant capitalism has created huge economic inequity. And we hope that by raising awareness and supporting community-based tourism ventures we can have some impact.
We support various socio-economic, cultural, and environmental projects and we are engaged in promoting a tourism that creates economic opportunities for the locals. Visit our first Caring for Destination project developed with the Art Lodge and the Isla Gobernadora community.
In loving memory of Chrystel Cancel:
Chrystel Cancel had just arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and was standing in the Hotel Montana lobby when the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010 struck and levelled the building. Though she has physically left our world, her good works will live on and I am sure it was her hope that she could continue to influence and help other people with her memory.
Chrystel was from Toulouse, France. She completed a Bachelors and Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Toulouse; then, she went on to graduate from the University of Paris in 1999 with an additional Masters in Political Science with a specialization in developing countries. Chrystel's path then led her to Washington DC where, in 2006, she acquired a Masters in Tourism Administration from George Washington University.
This remarkable woman had many passions in her life; she loved to travel, she had a great sense of adventure and she wanted to see sustainable tourism reach out and help as many people as it could. She has certainly left a legacy and touched many lives for the better.
The two projects closest to Chrystel's heart at the time near her death were the Panama Gobernadora Island - Art Lodge and BTSA in Bocas del Toro.
The project on Gobernadora Island at the Art Lodge is a symbiotic relationship between the burgeoning tourism industry and the local community that is seeking to create a better life. Our group supports the empowerment of women. A local initiative led by the Art Lodge, a privately owned artist retreat located on Isla Gobernadora just off Panama's Pacific Coast, has created burgeoning artisans from the local community. Traditionally, the local populace has subsisted from fishing and slash-and-burn agriculture. The folks at the Art Lodge are assisting the women of the area to craft unique elements from their local environment. The sales of the creations are generating an alternative form of income for the island from the growing tourism interest in the area and the nation. For each package sold, a percentage of the revenue will be used to support futher development of the small enterprize and to begin a new nursery project to re-institute pre-Colombian forms of agro-forestry. This percentage will be matched by the hotel owner and combined with funds from other sources.
To find out more about the life and works of Chrystel Cancel, read on here . We miss you Chrystel...
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