Our special report for this new edition is with the mayor of a district in Los Santos that has been growing in tourism. Although he is already in his second consecutive term, he continues to work hard so that the town continues to grow and become the tourist destination that its potential deserves to achieve.
For Miguel Batista, since he took office as Mayor, he has been demonstrating his love for the traditions and lifestyle that are offered in this sector of the Azuero Peninsula. It also promotes a community mentality where everyone knows each other, including newcomers. A mentality that has helped the growth and quality of life in this beautiful town of Los Santos. Exclusively, Mayor Miguel Batista talks to The Visitor-El Visitante about Pedasi, its history, what they currently offer and where they are going in the future as a tourist destination.
How was Pedasi 20 years ago compared to today?
“We have changed a lot in the last 20 years, tourism has arrived very quickly, we went from being a small fishing and ranching town to a town with many restaurants, hotels and even celebrities. Tourism has brought us a lot of work, a lot of construction, it has enhanced the value of our properties, however, we are very concerned that this growth and new times will distance us from our culture, our folklore, apart from the fact that we have had to protect our houses a bit. due to the construction and labor that often comes from foreign places, before it was common for people to keep their doors open all day and outside their houses they kept hammocks or rocking chairs.”
What does the District need to be able to offer all the infrastructure that a destination like Pedasi deserves?
“We have to invest more in our educational system to ensure that the Pedasieños are in charge of all this development, be it our architects, engineers, chefs, administrators, among others. Many tourists come here for our waves, our fishing, Iguana Island and the biodiversity of the area, tourists today do not look for so much development, they look for adventures and experiences, however water and connectivity are fundamental and we have deficiencies in both, we have 55 km of beach and we have developed less than 15%, in the same way we continue working on the safety of visitors and residents, in this you always have to be investing.”
The people in Pedasi are hard workers. What tools do they need to be able to enhance all their skills for the benefit of the District?
“We have to dream more to become our own bosses, have our own business, our ventures, we have to provide more training, there are many who live from tourism but turn their backs on it because even though they often work in the field, they feel as secondary actors. Tourism for me and what Pedasi offers a lot of opportunities, there is great amount of construction thanks to this, we do not have guides or tour operators in the area, we must be insistent on continuing to train and give more base capital. It is necessary to create community groups to work collectively and also support those single mothers.”
Pedasi is part of the Comprehensive Urban Development Program for Cities with a Tourist Vocation promoted by an IDB loan. What projects are you planning to develop with this investment? How much progress has been made and what objectives are you seeking to achieve once they are carried out?
“With the IDB and the ATP we began a period of consultations and meetings to determine needs in approximately 2017, it was concluded that it was necessary to recover the town center, pave the streets around the square, improve the plaza and connect it through a bike path to Playa El Arenal and Playa El Toro, in the same way, a new visitor center where the ATP is currently located in Pedasi, this is done with the support of the Bio Museum in Panama, also a project in Playa El Arenal to create better access for tourists to take a boat to Isla Iguana, the territorial ordering plan and finally the management of our solid waste. We would like the process to be faster, however, the designs are still in process and once the works are delivered, we will see final results in 2023-2024 and it will probably end in 2026.”
How would you like to see Pedasi 10 years from now?
“In 10 years I hope that we all understand the positive impact that tourism can have for all our inhabitants, that this sector generates countless opportunities even in various sectors, having water 24/7, with a better educational system adapted to the area, with better connectivity, better roads and even new access to different beaches. I hope that the next Government understands that to make a tourist destination grow it is not only the responsibility of the ATP, here different state entities must be involved. Hope that is never change that feeling of a welcoming town that keeps its customs and traditions”.