Tourism officers meet @18
It was the s ame time last year that I received a message from then Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines Inc. founder and former Camiguin provincial tourism officer turned DOT 7 director Catalino Chan III, reminding us tourism officers from all over the country that October 4 was Tourism Officers Day.
It was 18 years ago that he led the organization of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines at Dynasty Court Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, with an election of officers aimed to strengthen the role of tourism officers in the development of tourism in the Philippines. In 2009, then DOT Secretary Ace Durano and his team prepared the National Tourism Act, which was passed into law, through Senator Richard Gordon.
ATOP is an organization of tourism officers from all towns and cities in the country regardless of appointment status. Today, most cities and provinces already created the tourism officer position with strengthened capabilities, professionalizing the job in government.
When the convention started, there were about 400 delegates attending the annual meet; today, it has grown to more than a thousand and is increasing as more and more people are interested and concerned when it comes to good tourism governance. The convention is back in Iloilo after nine years, with the provincial government, DOT, and the Iloilo Tourism Officers Association as key players.
The theme then was “Tourism Today…Coping with Climate Change”. As we meet in the City of Love again today, we are guided by the theme “Sustainable Tourism: A tool for Development”.
Registration was at Casa Real, beside the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. With the online registration, identification cards are printed right away. Today, more than 10 itineraries were prepared for tours around Iloilo where the towns and cities are involved with preparations, showing local products, attractions, and a learning experience, bringing the delegates closer to the government. There are cultural and heritage tours, farm tours, adventure tours, and a combination of nature and adventure and a visit to landmarks and attractions.
Yesterday, a mass was held at San Jose de Placer Church, Plaza Libertad. The Parade of Festivals was fun with all delegates wearing their costumes. Negros delegates Cristine Mansinares, Butch Gerasmo, Rica Batara, Juanily Pedrosa and Cadiz team, Wilma of Silay and Theresa Alvarez of EB Maglona, Jocelyn Bandolos of Ilog, Ian de Ramos and team with JDC and JP Miltante and Victor Lapidez of Manapla as well as the Sagay tourism team came in black and grey shirts, with the latest logo of MassKara Festival, and paraded along the streets of Iloilo from Plaza Libertad to Calle Real, Muelle Loney, Casa Real and Grand Xing Imperial Hotel while wearing masks.
DOT Undersecretary Almarita Jimenez was guest of honor for the mayor's welcome dinner; tomorrow, Senator Nancy Binay, chair of the Senate Committee on Tourism, will talk on Legislative Programs on Philippine Tourism. MICE 101 and its benefits to the local economies will be delivered by Ashwin Gunasekeran, Undersecretary Silvino Tejada will talk on the integration of the three tourism sectors as one power brand product for sustainable tourism, the 5As of tourism security and safety will also be discussed by Augustus Ceasar Esmeralda.
On the third day will be the immersion tours and the most awaited 12 th ATOP Pearl Awards with Negros Occidental as awardee, together with Victorias, Silay, Sagay, Sipalay, and Cadiz. Good luck to us Negros Occidental and congratulations to the winners!
Having been national president of ATOP, I would like to congratulate the new officers headed by Lanao del Norte provincial tourism officer Minda Regis and the 18 th ATOP convention organizing team. I may not receive a message from Sir Butch this time with his passing early this year, but the spirit of oneness among tourism officers goes on.
Happy 18 th ATOP!*