men this talk with VanguardAmbassador Fernández talks about the projects with the Bucaramanga Chamber of Commerce and other unions in the region, so that Santanderean businessmen have access to Central American markets and also show the department as a destination for investors from the neighboring country.
What tourism potential did you see in Bucaramanga that could interest tourists from your country?
I was pleasantly surprised with Bucaramanga. I was invited by the Chamber of Commerce, we had meetings and I was able to visit several municipalities. Santander seems to me an exceptional destination. Bucaramanga has a spectacular climate, incredible vegetation and very beautiful landscapes, and the people are very warm. I was able to see the viewpoint of El Santísimo, it seemed fantastic to me to be able to see the entire metropolitan area, I think that all this can attract the attention of many tourists in my country. I was enchanted with Santanderean gastronomy. On the way to Barbosa we were able to appreciate the Chicamocha Canyon and its landscapes, I think it is a place that you have to go at least once in your life and you have to show it to the world.
The direct route with Panama is mainly commercial. How can Panamanians see Bucaramanga as a tourist destination?
The connection we have is mostly transit to the north of the continent, but the idea with this visit is to be able to promote Santander and Panama as tourist destinations that complement each other. For that we were meeting with different authorities in the region reviewing options for the future because what we seek is to increase the flow of tourists. The Panamanian likes to come to Colombia a lot and now we are going to have a new option, which is Bucaramanga.
What tourist offer does Panama have today, in addition to the obligatory visit to the Canal?
Today the airline Copa, which operates the direct flight between Bucaramanga and Panama, has a very good option and that is that if transiting to other countries, the person can get off in Panama and spend a few days visiting, without this implying a higher ticket cost. With that you can then visit two destinations in the same trip. What I can tell you about our country is that, in addition to the Panama Canal, which is undoubtedly our great tourist attraction, today we have an important development in the old quarter of Panama City, an architectural recovery has been carried out and this has given step to a whole offer of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, sectors to walk through that old town and understand much of our history, with museums and cultural settings. Panama is also a beach destination, we have the Caribbean and Pacific seas, highlighting the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, which is a tourist destination with hotel capacity, close to Costa Rica, where there is a local indigenous life, which has a lot to know.
Can Colombians still think about going shopping in Panama like before?
Of course, our country still has a very competitive offer due to its status as a port. Panama has traditionally been a shopping destination for Colombians, but Colombia is also increasingly a shopping destination for Panamanians. We like all the development that you have achieved in terms of design, food and many other things. What we want is for Bucaramanga to now be a new shopping destination for Panamanians, with the potential that you have as a region in the footwear and leather goods industry.
In your visit to Santander, was there talk of bringing investment to Santander?
Of course, part of the conversations we had were for that purpose, to connect the Bucaramanga and Panama chambers of commerce, to achieve a fluid exchange in both trade and investment. We are going to hold various forums to tell Panamanians about investment opportunities, but also the internationalization of Santanderean producers. I was visiting the health free zone in the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga and we are very interested in this line of work. Conversations have already begun to find synergies and possible cooperation in the exchange of experiences. I got to know the International Hospital of Colombia and I think there is a lot of potential for us Panamanians to take advantage of the quality of medical services. Soon we will return to review the progress and we want to specify that a Santander business delegation can participate with their products in the Expocomer Fair, which is in March, and which is the largest trade fair in the region. The idea is that they can arrive en bloc as a region, as a brand, and that they can market their products, but also serve as a showcase to the world.