LEGAZPI CITY -– The local travel industry sector is having city mayor Noel Rosal as its bet in this year’s search for the Tourism Star Philippines Awards of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Antonio Fernandez, City Tourism Office (CTO) chief, on Monday said a group of local tourism advocates is now preparing their nomination of the city mayor to the Tourism Star local chief executive (LCE) category for his sterling performances in leading and facilitating tourism movements in the city, resulting in huge tourism income and job creation.
The group, which Fernandez declined to identify, is now preparing not only a list of Rosal’s tourism-related accomplishments last year but also proof of support to DOT regulatory and development functions such as providing budget and work plan, enactment of local ordinances on mandatory accreditation and collection of tourism statistics, among others.
Fernandez said the group believes that the mayor fits well in the LCE Star category for his unparalleled accomplishments in line with best practices in tourism, promotion, planning and product development, regulatory, investments, centerpiece projects and support to DOT advocacies.
According to Maria Ong-Ravanilla, the DOT regional director for Bicol based here, the Tourism Star Awards was launched last year in search for the frontliners, managers, individuals and LCEs who have made a huge impact on the tourism industry over the past three years.
A competition that celebrates the excellence and dedication exemplified by individuals in driving the country’s tourism forward, the award is now a yearly search to engage more people and LCEs alike to take more proactive roles in efforts of not only raising competitiveness but also in instilling in every Filipino the culture of tourism, she said.
Deadline for submission of nominations is on May 31 of every year, according to Ravanilla.
The search also encourages everyone — whether foreign or local tourists — to share positive stories about how local tourism front liners made their stay in any particular place in the country memorable and helped strengthen the DOT’s tourism campaign.
Ravanilla said she agrees with the group, whoever its members are, which is working on the nomination of Rosal to the award as she is absolutely convinced that the mayor really works very hard not only to sustain but also further improve the already booming tourism industry of the city.
Rosal, she said, drew hundreds of thousands of foreign and domestic tourist to the city not only because it is home to the majestic Mt. Mayon but also because “Legazpi is already a world-class metropolis catering to an influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers.”
And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the mayor has also been able to create a pleasant local business climate that broadens and fortifies investment opportunities and job creation in the locality, Ravanilla said.
Tourism is indeed taking a crucial role in the city in its pursuit for inclusive and horizontal growth that benefits not only big investors such as hotel operators but also the people in the countryside, where most of its tourist destinations are located, by providing more opportunities for employment and business ventures, she added.
According to Fernandez, the city, after surpassing the half-million tourist arrivals mark in 2013, achieved more improvements in its tourism performance last year by hitting the 700,000 count that gave it a better change of notching a slot in the top 10 best tourist destinations and top five convention cities in the country this year.
The city, he said, received a total of 579,470 domestic and foreign tourists in 2013 which was higher by 141,370 or a whopping increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s list of arrivals.
These figures landed the city in the 14th place of the country’s best destination ranking, according to Fernandez.
Rosal works aggressively hard not only to keep the Legazpi–now known in the travel industry world as the “City of Fun and Adventure”—a leading tourists destination but among the top “Convention Capitals” of the country.
“We are now highly capable of hosting and properly handling friendly visitors from any part of the world and proof is our hosting in May last year of a series of meetings conducted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization-Association of South East Asia Nations (UNWTO-ASEAN) and attended by some 2,000 delegates from 32 member-states,” the mayor said.
The city government hosted 30 big national and international gatherings last year and the CTO has already listed 19 this year as of Monday, including two conferences of the Philippine-hosted 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that will be held at the Oriental Hotel in July and September.
On his proposed nomination to the Tourism Star award, Rosal said he feels glorified about it and winning it would be additional honors to the dozens of recognitions the city government obtained last year, including the Most Livable City Award, Galing Pook, Gawad Kalasag and Silver Governance Trailblazer (SGT) award for excellence in local governance.