sustainable tourism

Three Pillars

Sustainable Tourism

At Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge, we are advocates of Sustainable Tourism and are constantly searching for ways to minimize our impact on our planet. Proud of our little corner on Taboga Island, we work to protect and preserve the rich environment we live in. We believe tourism should benefit local communities and celebrate their culture and traditions which is why we endeavor to create authentic experiences for our guests. Each guest stay directly supports efforts to conserve natural resources, protect Taboga’s cultural traditions and improve the quality of life for local people.

Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge was born from our vision to develop a local stay experience and create Taboga island’s first sustainable eco-lodge. Taboga Island is nestled in a protected area of the Gulf of Panama on the Pacific side, just 30 minutes from Panama City and the hub of the Americas. This humble island is of great historical significance to Panama and has been declared by law an official historic monument*. Cerrito Tropical, established in the community for over 15 years. Our small property is perched on the mountainside, with a backdrop against the island’s mixed tropical forest, with a view to the ocean where the local people fish, at the edge of the tiny village of San Pedro.

At Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge, we are working hard to remove single-use plastics from our property and when we cannot, we recycle our plastic. We also support local projects which aim to give back to communities and regenerate the nature which surrounds us, projects such as the Taboga Recycle program. We strive to respect our surroundings, and be an active community resource—all while providing a rewarding guest experience. Step by step our effort and its impact is growing.

Although we are a small accommodation, we believe that every small step can make a difference. We follow the three pillars of sustainable tourism at Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge***: Environmental Stewardship, Natural and Cultural Preservation, and Community Empowerment.

Whales Taboga Island Panama
kayak taboga island panama

Environmental Stewardship Pillar

To be an environmentally friendly property is a globally recognized concept which encourages innovation and sustainability to reduce, reuse and recycle, including energy, water, waste, and carbon emissions.

Nature & Culture Preservation Pillar

When tourism works to protect Taboga’s natural and cultural heritage, it also invests in safeguarding this legacy for future generations.

Past and present live as one, which is why we are committed to protecting the region’s historic sites and nature. Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge has served as a base for scientific research over the years from where international scientific excursions into the forest studied the Taboga Green Dart Frog Dendrobates auratus*****, Tarantulas, Sericopelma rubronitens as well as for recognized historians. Plus as a host for the visiting ship MV Brigitte Bardot of the Sea Shepherd an international non-profit Marine Wildlife Conservation Society who helped locally with the turtle protection project. Additionally, we support educational school programs that empower local students to become future stewards of Taboga’s natural heritage.

Community Empowerment Pillar

When tourism in Taboga Island directly benefits local people by contributing to their economic and social well-being, they also become active partners in protecting nature, improving standard of living, and celebrating cultural diversity. We promote and implement responsible actions that recognize and value cultural identity, needs, expectations and rights of communities and support local cultural and social initiatives.

Participating in social projects, we act as a strategic ally to promote sustainable excursions and training of locals by working with local inhabitants to offer authentic packages and benefit the communities with complementary income.

From the beginning, we have remained integrated with our Taboga community and continue to serve as a resource on the island. We sponsored sports teams in the nearby school, bring in experts to discuss the problem of plastics in the sea and the Save the Turtles program. Hand in hand with locals we worked to create a safe area for turtle eggs to develop and when they hatched, we helped them get safely to the sea. We have donated through food delivery sales to support the local health clinic. We have created and sponsored a cultural/music and food festival, have been involved in numerous beach cleaning activities as well as installed signage for the hikes on the island. Now we are involved in developing an educational project regarding the diverse tropical trees found on Taboga.

Providing employment to local community members is key to our company’s sustainability mission, and we are proud to employ Tabogan and Panamanian staff. By creating jobs in an area with limited opportunities, and investing in our employees through training, we strive to empower community members to become both hospitality professionals and stewards of their island – numerous former employees have gone on to open their own small businesses.

In order to support sustainable community supply chains and help grow the local economy, our purchasing and contracting policies consistently favor local suppliers and service providers. We pay our taxes locally which helps fund the local mayor’s office that manages the island.

Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge

Sustainable Tourism Statement


To contribute to enhance the lives of our Cerrito Tropical guests and staff, to offer the opportunity for them to experience and understand sustainable and green tourism; to discover, create, learn and transform through innovative sustainable hospitality services and products.


To enrich Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge guests’ travel experiences and exceed their expectations by offering an authentically relaxing and educative local experience, sustainability in our practices, and demonstrating a care for our surrounding environment and the education and growth of local people resulting in improved sustainable development.


To realize our Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge vision, several procedures have been set in place which will adapt and grow with time. We perform and promote sustainable tourism, informing and involving staff and guests in best practices to preserve local culture, history and nature, to contribute to the local economy, and to care for the environment.

The main management processes are consistent quality management, environmental management, and health and safety management.

Regarding environmental management, the company commits to administer and promote its sustainability policy, work towards prevention of pollution and climate change.

As for health and safety management, the company commits itself to meet the legal requirements, and minimize health risks by following the rules as designated by the Department of Health, MINSA.


We maintain communication with local authorities and denounce any case of illegal or violent behavior.

For questions related to our sustainability policies please contact us at info@cerritotropicalpanama.com


Appendix One *

Historic Sites

Translated from Spanish.
“According to Law 6 of March 13, 2012, on Taboga Island, the Historic Monumental Complex of Taboga is considered a historical site, [which] comprises the Morro and La Restinga area, the area occupied by Francisco Pizarro’s house, the monastery house of Hernando de Luque, the ruins of the house of Santa Rosa de Lima, the Pozas del Obispo, the Cochera de Barlovento, the monastery of San Pedro, the house of the writer Rogelio Sinán, the house of the painter Hernando de Luque, the ruins of the house of Santa Rosa de Lima ”, among other places.”

Según la Ley 6 del 13 de marzo de 2012, en Taboga se considera sitio histórico “el Conjunto Monumental Histórico de Taboga, [que] comprende el área del Morro y La Restinga, el área que ocupara la casa de Francisco Pizarro, la casa monasterio de Hernando de Luque, las ruinas de la casa de Santa Rosa de Lima, las Pozas del obispo, la Cochera de Barlovento, el monasterio de San Pedro, la casa del escritor Rogelio Sinán, la casa del pintor Hernando de Luque, las ruinas de la casa de Santa Rosa de Lima”, entre otros sitios. La Prensa periódico. “Estructuras históricas de isla Taboga serán inspeccionadas” https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/Estructuras-historicas-isla-Taboga-inspeccionadas_0_5307969231.html

GacetaNo_26994_20120315.pdf #26994, jueves 15 de marzo 2012 Que declara el conjunto monumental histórico de Taboga. www.gacetaoficial.gob.pa › GacetaNo_26994_20120315

Appendix Two **

Detailed Steps

Steps and processes in detail to increase sustainability, environmentally-friendly awareness and actions, reducing our carbon footprint, cultural sensitivity and education.


  • Priority for sustainable local hiring
  • Purchase priority for local organic produce
  • Purchasing priority of local fish caught using traditional handline methods
  • Supporting local community projects
  • Use of local village transport
  • Zero-mile organic food purchase priority when possible
  • Furniture locally made in Panama where possible
  • Priority to contract and do joint ventures with local guides, companies, agencies and operators whenever possible and search for sustainably managed companies
    and individuals

Local culture

  • Educative online articles about local culture and history
  • At our restaurant where we receive thousands of visitors a year we created a historic photo exhibition
  • We have written and developed a document with photos in English and Spanish about the local history and culture which can be found both at our restaurant and eco lodge
  • Supporting of local festivals and events
  • Supporting and promotion of local sustainable fishing practises and suggest “fishing with a local” tours
  • Protecting a nearby historic gathering site, cleaning and providing interpretive information

Recycling and No Single-Use Plastic Steps

  • Implementation of the no straws campaign
  • We use recyclable take out containers
  • Recycle containers for refuse for guests and staff to use
  • We use recycled paper for printer or no-paper electronic documents
  • All aluminum and glass (non-refillable) are recycled
    We practice upcycling for interpretive signage and garden furniture
  • We use of reusable packaging when possible
  • No plastic bag policy in place or use of reusable bags – when needed use of biodegradable bags
  • We use reusable Covid-19 masks
  • Liquid refillable containers soap pumps are placed in rooms
  • Refillable glass bottles for potable water are placed in rooms

Composting of organic waste

  • Practicing food and garden waste sorting for our own composting system

Water conservation

  • We collect and reuse rainwater
  • Reverse osmosis creates our local water supply
  • We use Gray water in gardens
  • Guests participation and education result in reduced laundry and lower water use
  • Staff education to reduce water use
  • Installation of reduced flow showerheads
  • Setting for Low water use on toilet tanks
  • We have flow reducers on sinks for reduced water use

Energy conservation and reducing our carbon footprint

  • Guest and staff education aimed at reducing our energy consumption
  • New appliances are inverter or energy efficient appliances
  • Inverter hot water heaters, water is stored in black tanks so ambient temperature is warm – guests can choose
  • Eco bulbs we are using area energy saving
  • We use solar lamps for security at night
  • Use of outdoor line drying for laundry and we have installed low energy use washers
  • Use of thermal insulated and environmentally friendly materials in all new construction
  • We have left the surrounding nature intact whenever building and replanting areas which had been stripped or abandoned
  • Created outdoor shaded areas for guests to enjoy reduce use of fans and air conditioning
  • Priority for purchasing at nearby markets and sustainable transportation promoted
  • We are involved in a Panamanian teak reforestation project

General environmental conservation steps

  • Green cleaning biodegradable products are purchased whenever possible
  • We have used a low impact small lodge design
  • We and our guests use public ferries
  • We have created an organic garden growing our own organic produce
  • Utilizing natural bug control, natural insecticides and natural fertilizers
  • Planted flower gardens to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds using local plants and wildflowers
  • We offer vegetarian options No GMO food products where possible
  • Priority to minimization of waste when purchasing and buying in bulk when possible
  • We encourage staff and guests to protect and appreciate our natural onsite biodiviersity
  • Property is appropriately managed keeping biodiversity intact, where it is not possible we compensate by replanting
  • Landscaping the property with native species is vital, invasive species not permitted
  • Noninvasive interaction with local wildlife encouraged and visitors and staff educated about our onsite species – measures are taken to minimize disturbance
  • No wildlife species is captured or harvested for consumption on our property


  • Staff training education for recycling and green strategies
  • Protection and care of nearby areas of primary forest
  • We offer education for visitors in tropical tree types uses and protection as well as education for visitors in local medicinal herbs that thrive in our area and their
  • We offer options for low impact tours by accredited nature guides such as hiking and birding and snorkeling, as well as learning hand line fishing methods by taught by local fishermen

We encourage local environmental initiatives

  • Founding members of Taboga save the sea turtle group and development of areas to protect the nests as well as design, print and place interpretive signage
  • Participation in local school environmental education (ie: sea turtle project in conjunction with Sea Shepherd organization) 
  • Participating in local Beach Cleaning projects
  • We participate in the Taboga Recycle Project by Ancon.org****

Appendix Three ***

UN World Tourism Organization


Participants at the side event ´Tourism for a Sustainable Future´ held at Rio+20 agreed that tourism can make a significant contribution to the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.

Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and planet. For sustainable development to be achieved, it is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies. …

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/ https://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism/

Sustainable tourism’ or ‘tourism in the green economy’ has been defined as tourism activities that can be maintained indefinitely in their environmental, social, economic and cultural contexts and despite their effect on these areas of life (UNEP & UNWTO, 2005). The ILO’s definition of sustainable tourism is, that it is “composed of three pillars: social justice, economic development, and environmental integrity.

Appendix Four ****

Recycle Program on Taboga Island

Las estaciones de reciclaje del Proyecto de Gestión de Residuos Sólidos de Taboga ya están en la isla. En el marco del proyecto de Gestión Integral de Residuos Sólidos de Taboga, que ejecutamos junto a la Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá, Cervecería Nacional y el Municipio de Taboga, hemos logrado dar un paso más en su desarrollo al trasladar seis estaciones de reciclaje hasta isla Taboga.

https://ancon.org/estaciones-reciclaje-taboga/ https://elcapitalfinanciero.com/proyecto-de-gestion-integral-de-residuos-en-isla-taboga-ha-capturado-mas-de-4-mil-kilos-de-materiales/