Loes Roos and Kees Groenendijk founded Tanager Tourism in 2006 and Heliconia Turismo in 2009 for licence purposes. We are originally from the Netherlands where we both obtained a degree in Biology at Wageningen Agricultural University (Loes a M.Sc. and Kees a Ph.D.). We have around twenty years experience in rural development and community participation in Africa and Panama. We have worked for International Non Governmental Organizations, UN organizations and Bilateral Organizations.
Kees loves birdwatching and has now experience in three continents. He has over 1250 “lifers” on his list and guided many birders. Kees also knows a lot about ecology in general. Loes loves drawing and painting and being creative. Some of her technical and art illustrations have been printed and published and her crafts make popular souvenirs.
After many years of interesting jobs in international development, often stressing the importance of local employment and tourism, we decided it was time for a change and put our money where our mouth is. We did extensive research on the internet and made two reconnaissance visits before we decided to set up an ECO-Tourism (Environment and Community Oriented) Company in Palmilla, Mariato district, on the Western Azuero Pacific coast of Veraguas, Panama.
We chose this location because we found many tourist attractions (beaches, turtle breeding, snorkeling, surfing, bird watching) and a community in Malena with an active interest in protecting their natural resources. Unfortunately, the tropical forests that once covered Mariato district were cut down decades ago, so we had to reforest our property to add yet another attraction to the area. Through reforestation we will also off set our and other people’s CO2 production.
By providing interesting jobs with fair wages to the Panamanians who live in the area and by outsourcing tourism activities and other small services to local small entrepreneurs we hope to have a positive and long term impact on the wellbeing of the local community. Last but not least, we hope to show that this type of ECO-tourism can be a profitable activity.
As all people who have tried know, it is not easy to set up a business and it takes time to invest, built the infrastructure and make a profit. Kees worked on a job in Angola, Africa to earn money while Loes supervised construction of the Bed and Breakfast. Our old blog tells those stories. But follow us on Facebook and our new blog to stay in touch and up to date.