The Philippine sports tourism community, from both the private and public sectors, fully supports the pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to focus on sports activities to boost tourist arrivals to the Philippines.
"We are all delighted that no less than the President has rubber-stamped our advocacy of engaging in more sporting events to attract more tourists to the Philippines," said Charles Lim, President of Selrahco, a company that has pioneered sports tourism advocacy through the Sports Tourism Forum series since 2004.
Throughout the years, many local governments and event organizers hosted hundreds of local and international sporting events. This developed with Lim establishing the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards (PSTA) in 2016 as founder and chairman.
" We have witnessed the professionalism, passion, and enthusiasm of the sports tourism community throughout the archipelago and have recognized some of them for their outstanding achievements with over a dozen categories of awards," Lim said.
Over 50 enterprises and host cities have so far received the awards. They include Clark Freeport Zone, Ironman, Dumaguete City, Philippine Airlines, Resorts World Manila, Sunrise Events Inc., New Clark City, Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa, Fat Boy Rugby 10s. Subic Bay Freeport, Province of Cebu, Municipality of Lubao, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Quest Plus Hotel Clark, Cebu Pacific Air, AAP FIA Conference, and Tour de Cebu, among others.
The country's top sports patron, Manny V. Pangalinan, and City of Dumaguete Mayor Felipe A Remollo were bestowed Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
"Our programs are supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotion Board (TPB) in particular since its inception. It involves an intricate multi-sectoral resoluteness for it to fully succeed," he said. "Ultimately, only host cities and selected sports with dedicated officials, with the passion, will be successful."
Princess Galura of Sunrise Events The Ironman Group, said, "We have been fortunate to bring the Ironman brand of triathlon and other events into the Philippines the last 15 years - bringing in thousands of local and foreign athletes to Camarines Sur, Cebu, Subic bay, Bohol, Dapitan, Davao, Cavite, and Puerto Princesa to experience what we have to offer as a country and as a people. We take pride in knowing that the Philippines is the Asian hub for triathlon with the most number of races in this part of the world. The Ironman Cebu race is still known as the crown jewel of Asia!"
For 2024, no less than 17 exciting races have been calendared across the country to be managed by Sunrise Events The Ironman Group.
"Sports tourism will continue to play a vital role in boosting tourist arrivals - may it be golf, diving, triathlon, marathon, and others. Age group athletes possess the discipline to excel in their sport in different environments and have capabilities to travel and explore, individually or with friends, families, and teammates," Galura said.
President BBM's call, which also suggested the promotion of native cuisine to boost the tourism industry, was made after a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (Psac) Tourism Sector headed by Sabin Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. Its members present included Lance Gokongwei of JG Summit Holdings, Rene Limcaoco of Hertz Philippines, Lucio Tan III of LT Group, and Lourdes Josephine Gotianum-Yap of Filinvest Development Corporation.
Sports events such as the SEA Games and the Fiba World Cup have greatly contributed to tourist arrivals in the Philippines.
Lim urged the Philippine Olympic Committee and its members to bid for more sectoral and regional events, if the world tournaments are out of reach, at the moment.
Robert Zozobrado, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines commented on the support of the President, "President BBM really knows what's good for our tourism industry. His support, from the very start of his term, for the hard work of the DOT and our stakeholders is the reason why our industry is recovering faster than expected."
One local government official with great foresight for sports tourism is former Clark Development Corporation president and incumbent City of Dumaguete Mayor, Felipe A. Remollo.
He implemented a plan to make Clark a sports hub in 2011 by building and improving sporting facilities, which included three baseball diamonds and two football pitches. Later, rugby and cricket became a regular sport in Clark. Today, Clark is bursting with visiting athletes and recreationists from far and near.
"Since my incumbency as Mayor of Dumaguete in 2016, my administration has aggressively pursued sport tourism. We partnered with the Philippine Sports Commission and various sports event organizers to host events like triathlon, dragon boat, beach volleyball, archery, beach football, handball, sepak takraw, frisbee, marathon, etc," Remollo said.
On infrastructure, Remollo added, "My administration reclaimed an area along the boulevard as a venue for these sporting activities for everyone to use for free. Idle and poor kids and the youths have been transformed into avid sports enthusiasts."
"With the support of the government and the DOT, plus the proper infrastructure to support a growing sports industry, we will continue to showcase the best of the Philippines to the world," Galura added. PR