Pacete: The biggest tourism event

YES, the 15th Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines Inc. (ATOP) National Convention will be held in Bacolod City on October 2 to 4. The event will adopt the theme of the World Tourism Day 2014, “Tourism and Development in the Community.”

ATOP envisions itself as a dynamic and pro-active tourism organization responsive to the challenges of the industry towards strengthening the country’s global competitiveness and sustaining the equitable benefits of tourism for all Filipinos. As a member of this organization, I believe that it is a potent partner in tourism development and promotions in the country.

This year’s convention will be hosted by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental in partnership with the City Government of Bacolod, Association of Tourism Officers of Negros Occidental (ATONO) and Department of Tourism-Region 6. The gathering will take place during the Masskara Festival of Bacolod City and the National Indigenous Peoples (IP) Month Celebration which will truly make our annual event more relevant and meaningful.

Alphonsus Tesoro, the provincial tourism officer of Capiz and ATOP national president, said this year’s convention features discussion and knowledge sharing on the various convergence programs of the national government for tourism development, community exposure in various tourism sites in Negros Occidental focusing on best practices in tourism governance, thematic sessions on tourism responsive governance, tourism marketing and promotions, product development, and integration of culture in tourism planning.

The highlight of the event is the “Gabi ng Parangal,” The Pearl Award: ATOP DOT Best Tourism Practices of the Philippines Awards. ATOP, as a dynamic organization, is recognizing men and women who work hard (and harder) in the tourism industry. It is sending a strong message to all of us that creative works and exceptional services are not going to be ignored.

Great deeds should be noticed and recognized and will be publicized to make them visible as rewards for such noble endeavor. In partnership with the Department of Tourism, the Best Tourism Practices Awards was born in 2005 when it was launched during the 6th ATOP National Convention held in Bacolod City and that was hosted by Negros Occidental and ATONO. I was ATONO’s immediate past president then with the late Oscar Cornelio as ATONO’s president.

The aim is to institutionalize the annual system of recognition. It is hoped that the awards will give incentives to the best men and women who are in the front line of tourism industry, most especially the tourism workers of the Local Government Units. This year, the awards are open to all LGUs only. There are five major award categories.

Best in Tourism Event is divided into two sub-categories, namely festivals, and adventures, sports, and wellness tourism. This could be in provincial, city or municipal level. There is also Best Tourism-Oriented LGU. This is also in three levels. There is also a category for Best Tourism Month or Tourism Week Celebration.

The Most Outstanding Tourism Officer Award is for tourism officers with permanent plantilla position for at least three years. There is also an award for the Most Outstanding Tourism Officers Club (or Organization, or Association). This award is open to provincial level only. The award year covers only Calendar Year 2013 (from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013). The deadline of submission is Aug. 30, 2014.

For Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, this ATOP National Convention will give us the best opportunity to showcase what is more than sugar. We will be marching together to tell the world, “Visit Western Visayas first. Come to Negros now!”
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