AROUND 1,400 tourism officers and stakeholders from across the country experienced the best of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental during the ATOP’s (Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines) 15th Annual National Convention last Oct. 2 to 4.
They were brought to various immersion sites in the cities of Sagay, Victorias, Silay, Talisay, Murcia, Bacolod, and Bago and Murcia town to experience and learn from their community-based rural tourism programs, provincial supervising tourism officer Cristine Mansinares said.
The immersion activities showcased the province's farm tourism, cultural, nature adventure, and marine ecotourism sites, she added.
This year’s delegation was the biggest that the ATOP national convention had hosted so far.
The three-day gathering kicked off with an opening ceremonies and Governor's Night hosted by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. at the Bacolod Pavilion Hotel.
The event was made special with the delegates wearing their colorful regional costumes with pride. They were treated to outstanding cultural performances and a variety of Negrense delicacies.
On the second night, the immersion activities were capped by a MassKara-inspired dinner hosted by Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella at the Government Center.
The plenary sessions on the third day were anchored on the theme “Tourism and Development in the Community.” Tourism Promotions Board chief operations officer Chicoy Enerio represented Tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. and presented the Visit Philippine Year 2015 program of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Culminating the convention was the Pearl Awards Night wherein the best tourism practices in the country were recognized by ATOP and the DOT, represented by Enerio, DOT-Western Visayas regional director Helen Catalbas, and ATOP president Alphonsus Tesoro.
Negros Occidental was chosen the Best Tourism-Oriented LGU in the provincial category, while Silay City won the same award in the city category.