Local pioneers, stakeholders recognized at first Tourism GalaDec 21, 2018
In a bid to encourage further growth and collaboration in what has become a premier sector in the province, the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) conducted the first Tourism Gala at the Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort last December 19.
The program awarded individuals and organizations alike who have driven the expansion and improvement of the local tourism sector. Recipients were nominated by local government units (LGU) and underwent screening by the Office of the Governor, the INTO, and the Association of Tourism Officers of Ilocos Norte (ATOIN).
Awardees were grouped into ten categories: Hotels and Hospitality, Travel and Tour Operators, Attractions, Local Products, Restaurants, Festivals and Events, Transportation, Tourism Education, Event Venues, and Tour Guides.
Among those recognized under "Local Products" was 92-year-old National Living Treasure Magdalena Gamayo of Pinili. She was given a Tourism Star for Abel (a local handloom-woven fabric) for "upholding the Filipino weaving tradition in the Ilocos Region.
Meanwhile under "Festivals and Events," Badoc's La Virgen Milagrosa Bado-Badoc Festival was deemed the Outstanding Religious Festival. La Milagrosa is the patron saint of Ilocos Norte, with the La Milagrosa Provincial Fiesta celebrated every May.
Criteria for the awards revolved around exemplary leadership in providing customer services and hospitability; boosting agri-, cultural, and eco-tourism; promoting innovations of Ilocano cuisine and local products; and generating revenue for the province.
Mr. Ianree "Aian" B. Raquel, head of the INTO, said that he expects even stronger collaboration among stakeholders in coming years: "May your innovation, leadership and commitment to the Ilocano brand of hospitality and tourism inspire others as we face more challenges brought about by our ever-growing industry."
Senior Provincial Board Member (SPBM) Matthew Marcos Manotoc also extended his gratitude to all the awardees for their significant and active partnership within the tourism industry as well as for promoting Ilocano culture.
He added that the event was a sign of synergy and stronger partnership between the public and private sectors, reminding the stakeholders to "strike a healthy 'competition," wherein they cooperate and compete.
Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba likewise encouraged everyone present to live out the unique Ilocano culture of panagkaykaysa (unity) in developing a more livable, sustainable, and resilient province.
Last October, the Ilocos Norte bagged first place in the Best Tourism-Oriented LGU Category at the 2018 Pearl Awards hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines (ATOP).
Thus, Raquel remarked during his welcome address, "This year, we are the best in the country... This is because of our stakeholders and front liners, who never fail to showcase the pioneering spirit of the Ilocano."
Ilocos Norte's next major tourism event will be the 8th Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals on February 2, 2019, coinciding with the 201st Foundation Anniversary and closing of her bicentennial year.