Learn More About Bocas Eco Lodge’s Remarkable Economic Impact

During the pandemic pause, I studied the Economic Nutrition label that @shorefastfogoisland uses for its social enterprises. In an article entitled “5 Regenerative Solutions For A Positive Future Through Tourism” where @regenerativetravel summarized takeaways from its 2020 Regenerative Travel Summit, Zita Cobb from Shorefast championed radical transparency so that “we can avoid all of the greenwashing and the social washing and the marginalizing of local people, because it’s not dignified for local people, and it’s not dignified for the visitors.”⁣

Her stance, and our studies of our own business, caused us to review our own economic impact. What Shorefast has done and what companies such as Everlane are doing in a retail environment is give the consumer more information about where their money is going. We want to do the same.⁣

Thus we went back and looked at our impact for 2019 since it was a “normal” year. We hadn’t set up our accounting to manage the information as well as we could, but it gave us a baseline to begin from. In 2020 we updated our Chart of Accounts and our regular accounting to better provide information in the future.⁣

Economic Benefit Distribution is a measure of all expenditures made by Tranquilo Bay. Our instance includes Labor & Benefits, purchases from businesses and people within various distances from Tranquilo Bay within Panama, and then those expenses completed outside of Panama. ⁣

Once the number is calculated based on the data within each category, it is then formatted as a percentage of the total company expense.⁣


60% of our expenditures are made within the archipelago and province of Bocas del Toro. An incremental 24% is made within 100 KM of the lodge, so 84% of our expenditures are made within 100 KM of the lodge. We spend about 5% of our total expenditure within Panama but outside of this 100 KM radius which takes all of our spending within Panama to 89%.⁣

So we have 11% of the funds we spend paid to businesses and people outside of Panama itself. We haven’t drilled down into specific items as to whether or not they are made within Panama only from whom we purchase them. One area where we aspire for improvement would be determining where we stand with local goods purchased from grocery stores, etc. We updated our accounting for 2020 to incorporate more detail to calculate that information.⁣

Community Dollar Flow is a measure of all funds that flow into a community because of a particular company. Our instance includes Labor & Benefits, purchases from businesses and people within a 100 KM distance from Tranquilo Bay, gratuities left for staff, donations made within a 100 KM distance from Tranquilo Bay, and volunteer hours provided within 100 KM distance from Tranquilo Bay. Once the number is calculated based on the data within each category, it is then formatted as a percentage of the total company expense.

It is possible to exceed 100% of company expenses within the direct community because the inputs are broader. We are not there yet, but we can continue to aspire for improvement.

This is a graphic example of Community Dollar Flow. ⁣

  1. Labor and benefits paid to or on behalf of our staff.⁣
  2. Purchases from people and businesses within 100 KM of Tranquilo Bay. This includes both goods and services. A local tour, transportation, and food vendor would all be included within this category.⁣
  3. Gratuities left for our staff outside of our guides. Our guide tips tend to be direct, and we do not account entirely for these amounts.⁣ Beginning in 2022, we will also include the guide tips as appropriate.
  4. Donations, either in cash or in-kind, made by Tranquilo Bay or our guests within 100 KM of Tranquilo Bay.⁣
  5. Volunteer hours provided by lodge ownership, staff, or guests within 100 KM of Tranquilo Bay. These hours are accounted for at local labor or consulting levels as they are all provided in kind.⁣

    Taking the total of each of these categories into consideration, for 2019, 97% of our expense level flows directly into the community within 100 KM from Tranquilo Bay. This differs from the 89% of our direct expenses within Panama. We have also added categories three, four, and five, which are contributions to the community yet are not a direct expense.⁣

We now look at this information monthly to ensure things are staying in line and heading in the direction we want. We won’t update it annually until we have a full year of business, and we didn’t have that in 2020 or 2021. We are hopeful that in 2022 we will be open the entire year.⁣

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