Casco Antiguo is an area that has been renovating its buildings, which has allowed the opening of impressive hotels, apartments that maintain the early 20th century style, shops and restaurants. A sector that never leaves anyone indifferent, and that has an important meaning for our national history. For this reason, The Visitor – El Visitante decides to have as a Special Guest a personality who has been one of those responsible for the renovation process that Casco Antiguo has been undergoing since the 90’s. A Special Guest who was a member of the Civilian Crusade in times of the military dictatorship, General Manager of the former Tourism Institute of Panama and even a former member of the Board of Directors of the Social Security Fund. Cesar Tribaldos is a businessman who has been promoting the renewal of this vital area for Panama City and he exclusively talks about the present of Casco Antiguo, what we must maintain to continue developing it and how he envisions its future.
What does Casco Antiguo mean to you in the social and economic ecosystem of Panama City?
“For us, the most important thing has been the recovery of a patrimony that was totally abandoned by the State, and that was achieved thanks to the incentive law that was given in the time of President Balladares and the initiative of the Tourism Institute where I was General Director.
I have been able to see the generation of great sources of work during the last 15 to 20 years for an area that was totally abandoned and that with effort and vision became a center of tourist attraction, job creation and positioning itself as an economically active area.”
What can you suggest the government and private companies to improve the economic and cultural development of Casco Antiguo?
“In order to develop the Casco Antiguo economically, it is necessary that there be greater promotion by the Government, as well as the authorization of parking lots in the area that have been taken over by the State and that had been built to attract the local public. A situation that currently hinders the flow of visitors to the sector. Enabling more parking spaces for public use would also make it necessary to improve security allowing Visitors to move freely.
Access must be improved and the vehicles that travel must be electric with the capacity to take a large number of people from one place to another with stops.”
Lately there have been situations that generate insecurity in Casco Antiguo, how can we improve security in the area?
“Rather than having the security that at this time is focused on protecting and caring for the interests of the President of the Republic, the Presidency and the Ministries in the area, I believe that what should exist or as always existed… a tourism police on bicycle that can censure the safety of the area diligently.”
Which projects are being developed and which do you feel is the most important for the near future of Casco Antiguo?
“There are several projects that are being developed: the Santa Familia is very interesting, there is the Alfaro Square, together with the Downhill Jaen, where parking lots are being built at that point, and that will allow the residents of the area to have a place where they can park their vehicle, without the need to travel or load the sector with more cars, allowing restaurants to have a table on the street as is done in other countries of the world after 6pm.
El Casco is shaping up to be a major tourist attraction with new world renowned hotels being built. The best hotels in the Republic of Panama are currently in Casco Antiguo, such as La Compañia and Sofitel, as well as Hotel Central and others. Likewise, the wide range of restaurants of all kinds have helped make the area very touristy, and one of the most attractive and interesting points, as well as the Panamanian trade that sells Panamanian handicrafts”.
If you had the opportunity to create a project in Casco Antiguo that would Include tourism, commerce and social empowerment, what would it be?
“I think that the center of Casco Antiguo is quite well accommodated for what it needs, it just needs to get rid of cars to convert the streets into pedestrian streets where people can walk, sit down to eat or have a drink, as well as build new parking lots that are planned in a specific area near the Chorrillo area, from where buses will take tourists to the Casco Antiguo. We have a great opportunity to further develop this area and make the most of it so that it becomes a first class tourist destination.”
Photos courtesy: Cesar Tribaldos.