Four women entrepreneurs in Western Visayas were recognized during the first Icons of Sustainable Tourism Awards and Recognition (ISTaR) ceremony to mark the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) celebration of National Women’s Month in Region 6 on Monday.
DOT Western Visayas Regional Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriquez, in her message during the ceremony held at Casa Real here, said the award recognized the remarkable efforts of stakeholders in terms of sustainable tourism while taking into account the equal opportunity for men and women in the industry.
“This event will be a venue to highlight the success stories of our icons in the tourism industry and that will further inspire others to do better in their field leaving no one behind towards development,” Rodriquez said.
Awardees were Maria Remedios D. Bantug, vice president of the Bantug Lake Ranch Development Corporation, a nature resort and farm in Bacolod City as an Icon for Eco-Tourism; Barotac Viejo, Iloilo’s Ati Women of Nagpana Minorities Association president Rachel Mateo and Rhea Balandra, president of the Malay Boracay Vendors, Peddlers, Masseurs, Manicurists and Hair Braider Association, Inc. in Boracay, Aklan as Icons for Cultural Tourism; and Editha M. Sazon, owner/general manager of the Marzon Hotel in Kalibo, Aklan as Icon for Hospitality Tourism.
“Please do know that your efforts are highly appreciated and please continue to impact your knowledge and capabilities to others as agents of change towards tourism development,” the regional director added.
In her response, Balandra said she has been serving the industry for almost five years and found it a challenge how they could contribute to ensuring sustainable tourism.
“Tourism is the backbone of our livelihood,” she said and that their association conducts free manicure/pedicure and massage service as part of their outreach activity in their community and at the same time hold free arts and crafts training to youths and housewives in their area.
Mateo and the members of their Ati association allow guests to experience their local culture through their handwoven nito (vine turns into baskets, hats, etc.) crafts sold to tourists alongside their serving of local coffee produced by the Indigenous Peoples community.
Meanwhile, Helen A. Cutillar, tourism officer-designate of Sagay City in Negros Occidental in her message, said it is important for everyone to work hard toward sustainability and regeneration as tourism can destroy, women, children and culture.
“When we are in the community, we should make the space, the avenue where these children, youth, women, of all ages can participate actively,” she said.
Rodriquez said the recognition program is just the start of their comprehensive search for more tourism icons in the region. (PNA)