This initiative aims to exhibit the rural areas of the province, with its typical crafts and crops grown under this region's characteristic great climate in a landscape crisscrossed with rivers, to attract domestic and foreign tourists.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is one of the five branches of the United Nations that is backing this program of tourist routes, whose million-dollar investment is divvied among four provinces: Chiriquí, Veraguas, Herrera, and Coclé.
Magali Rojas, UNIDO's national coordinator, stated that the project has been funded by the Millennium Development Goals program, which seeks to improve the living conditions of the population of entrepreneurial, but low income, private sector workers, a group that includes craftspeople.
Alberto Jiménez, president of the Farmers and Artisans Federation of Coclé, said their group produces folk items, crafts, weavings, and organically grown agricultural crops. He applauded the Painted Hat project for its benefits to the community, and for paying homage to their locally woven headwear of the "Sombrero Pintao".
The villages of Vaquilla, Pajonal, Membrillo — the only place in Panama that makes crafts out of soapstone — El Águila, and Machuca are found along the Sombrero Pintao route, which opens a new path towards tourism. A main road links these communities, allowing tourists to walk or ride from town to town, stopping to observe, purchase, and enjoy what is offered by these village people who were once marginalized from tourism development.