What began as a challenging year due to President Duterte’s declaration of Boracay closure turned out to be a fruitful year for DOT VI. The Regional Office played a vital role in the crafting of policies, preparations and implementation of the plans to rehabilitate the island.

During the six-month closure of Boracay from April 26-October 26, 2018, twenty-four (24) trainings were conducted. As the opening drew near, a massive accreditation campaign was undertaken by the Regional Office resulting in a record 307 accredited establishments certified as compliant with environmental laws and adhering to tourism industry standards. For the rest of the year, the Department of Tourism Region VI received several awards and recognition from different agencies and institutions.

The Suyac Island Journey: Coastal Communities Resource Advocacies to Boost Sustainability (CCRABS), a 2014 BuB Project of DOT VI in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, was awarded 2nd place in the Best Practices on Community-based Responsible Tourism Category during the 2018 ATOP DOT-Pearl Awards held last October 6, 2018 at Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

Suyac Island Mangrove Eco Park is a community based Eco-tourism project of Sagay City. Solely operated by Suyac Island Eco-tourism Association (SIETAS), the local government of Sagay through Department of Tourism Region 6 Bottom-Up Process built a multi-purpose building with kitchen, acquired floating devices and underwater camera for snorkeling, procured catering materials for food service and solar panel package to provide power to the park. A 3-day Food Service Training was also conducted to improve delivery of customer service.

In only its first year, TAHUM Western Visayas, a Regional Multi-Media Advocacy and Marketing Campaign initiated by the Department of Tourism VI in partnership with the Global Stage Communicators, was recognized as one of the finalists in the Best Adult Educational and Cultural Program during the 40th Catholic Mass Media Awards at the Star Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City last November 14, 2018.

The campaign aims to highlight not only the best attractions of Western Visayas but also the rich cultural heritage and experiences that the region can offer. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to promote and advocate sustainable tourism to a much wider audience.

In addition, DOT Central Office recognized as Best Travel Vlog the entry from DOT VI for the “Phil the Beauty” contest. “Phil the Beauty” is a travel documentation/vlog contest that aims to give emphasis on people, culture, food and giving important tips to travelers. It was one of the many activities that were lined up during the Tourism Week Celebration. The award was given last December 4, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.

Also during the Northern Philippine Expo 2018, Team One Visayas, composed of DOT Regions VI, VII and VIII bagged the Best Booth Award given by the Department of Tourism Region III, Association of Tourism Officers of Central Luzon, Inc. (ATOCEL) and Philippine Exhibitions and Trade Corporation (PETCO). The trophy and certificate was given during the closing program of the travel expo last November 18, 2018 at SM City Clark, Clark Freeport, Pampanga.

Finally, Department of Tourism Region VI was recognized by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as Outstanding Partner for Report on Regional Economic Development in the Philippines for 2018. The Department received the “Dynamic Balance, Philippine Eagle Trophy” during the awarding ceremony that was held at Diversion 21 Hotel, Mandurriao, Iloilo City last September 11, 2018.

“The awards are a testament to the hard work, commitment and dedication to the culture of excellence among men and women of DOT VI. We hope our partners in the private sector and local government units will be inspired by this and will look up to these awards as a symbol of what we could achieve through cooperation among industry partners.” DOT VI Regional Director Atty. Helen Catalbas said. (KFA)