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DOT brings back Tourism Awards to foster industry excellence in Phl

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

Talking about excellence in hospitality, it is undeniable that the Philippines and Filipinos are best known for that because it’s part of our DNA. And many foreign tourists can attest to that. Hospitality is the trait on which hotels, resorts, restaurants and other service facilities related to the industry are built in this country.

Modesty aside, no place in the world can stake a claim to the hospitality industry the way we Filipinos do – with natural cheerfulness, warmth, sincerity and care in the service of guests. So the smiles and ministrations that cheered the heart of our guests, make an indelible mark in their memories.

Cognizant of all these unique value propositions we have, the Department of Tourism (DOT) launched the Philippine Tourism Awards (PTA) to encourage friendly competition and, at the same time, further promote industry excellence with support from industry stakeholders, institutions, and partners.

“Today, we launch the Philippine Tourism Awards which celebrates excellence in the entire tourism value chain. Through the Philippine Tourism Awards, we aim to give recognition to institutions, individuals, pillars, changemakers, and trailblazers in the various sectors of tourism that have contributed greatly to the fact that tourism is now one of the strongest pillars of our economy–-providing jobs to millions of Filipinos, providing much-needed livelihood and employment in communities across the country. By reviving this program that recognizes the work of our partners in the tourism industry, we foster the improvement of the quality of tourism services across the country, for indeed, that is the goal of the Department of Tourism: to ensure that we can elevate the status of tourism to be at par and globally competitive with our neighbors and the rest of the world,” Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said during the launching ceremony held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Friday (Feb. 2).

“By recognizing these institutions, individuals, and enterprises that have gone the extra mile, overall, we also foster healthy competition among industry players themselves. And as we all know, with competition comes improvement in the quality of overall tourism services,” the tourism chief added.

The PTA is envisioned to become the highest and most prestigious citation in Philippine Tourism. The reinvention of the former Kasama sa Lakbay Kaunlaran ng Bayan (KALAKBAY) Awards and Tourism Star Philippines is conceived to be the pinnacle and most esteemed accolade in the realm of Philippine tourism that will pay tribute to the past while recognizing the present and future achievements of the tourism industry as an economic driver.

According to Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, the PTA is also geared toward strengthening the partnership of the DOT with the stakeholders from the private sector, local government units (LGUs) as well as the media and recognizing their consistent professionalism and support to the tourism industry. The program also seeks to honor the efforts of outstanding industry players and LGUs that have demonstrated excellence in promoting and developing the country’s tourism sector.

Set of awards

The inaugural PTA launched on Friday will have two major categories this year: the Philippine Tourism Pillar Awards and the Philippine Tourism Industry Awards.

As part of the DOT’s 50th founding anniversary, the DOT will honor tourism industry pioneers and institutions through the Philippine Tourism Pillars Awards. This is a one-time recognition program in celebration of the DOT’s 50th Anniversary. It seeks to show appreciation to individuals, enterprises, destinations, and organizations who started it all for Philippine tourism.

Specifically, entries under enterprise must be in a primary tourism enterprise continuous operation for 50 years or more; the individual should be someone with a continuous career in the Philippine tourism industry for at least 35 years.

This award shall be open to the public for nominations and be subjected to the validation of the DOT and knowledge partner PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

Meanwhile, the Philippine Tourism Industry Awards will be a periodic national recognition program for both the private and public sectors involved in the development and promotion of Philippine tourism.

The prospective awardees are envisioned to be an embodiment of true Filipino hospitality and a contributor to socio-economic growth and environmental protection. For the pilot implementation, the industry awards will have five categories: institutional, individual, tourism product, media, and special awards.

Subject to industry trends and performance, the components of the PTA may vary, according to the tourism chief. The DOT shall issue an official notice on the roster of Award Categories for every Call for Applications.

Sustainability practices and equalization of opportunities until the grassroots level

In her address during the inaugural ceremony, Secretary Frasco emphasized how important inclusivity is for the industry, emphasizing her experiences as local chief executive before being appointed as tourism chief.

“Notably, these awards will not be just in Manila. We are spreading the good news of recognizing our partners in all our regions in the country, by making the awards both regional and national,” the Secretary said.

Likewise, she emphasized that the set of standards set by the DOT aims to equalize opportunities both for emerging and lesser-known recognitions, as well as to strengthen partnerships with LGUs.

“This local perspective we sought to introduce, because I, myself, come from local government, and I’ve seen for myself that in cities and municipalities, barangays and provinces across the Philippines, there are tourism best practices that are truly worthy of emulation. They may not be as grand a scale as others, but certainly [they] are not lacking in heart and determination. These community-based tourism initiatives, we seek to recognize and acknowledge as well for truly, we can only claim success in the tourism industry if we can uplift not just a few of our destinations but as many as we can. That, we feel, is the essence and the purpose of what we are doing: to ensure as wide an opportunity as possible for our emerging and lesser-known destinations and products to be given recognition as we continue to recognize of course our tourism gems across the country,” she said.

Further, the Secretary thanked partners both from the public and private sectors for their continued support of the DOT.

“We are also here to say thank you, to express our gratitude to our partners whom we are honoring, as we understand that recognitions and acknowledgments also build brand confidence,” she said.

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