The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are one of the highest accolades in the travel and tourism industry. The Awards were established to highlight and promote sustainable tourism best practices worldwide. On behalf of the company, my boss received the Tourism for Tomorrow 2013 Award for the Community Benefit category last April 9, 2013 during the WTTC’s 13th Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Philippines is ahead of Abu Dhabi by a few time zones so I actually found out that we won at around 12:15 am on April 10. My boss posted the simple status message “We. Won.” and a photo of the trophy. A flurry of internal screaming (my roommate was asleep and would have killed me if I woke her up), furious tweets and retweets, and Facebook shares later, I called Aids and said “We won.” Took me another hour and a few games of Temple Run to slow my brain so that I could sleep. A good couple of hours later, the sun is up and I’m back at work but my brain is still on a high. Luckily, my Facebook and Twitter contacts have been very patient and understanding about my endless posts about our company winning the award. Why is winning Tourism for Tomorrow such a big deal?
It’s recognition. Sustainable tourism is only now just getting off the ground in the Philippines but our company has been at it since we opened 31 years ago as a dive camp in Miniloc Island. It’s not easy to do – just ask my boss! – so recognition that we’re an industry leader is always welcome. As an industry leader, we hope to become a case study for how to grow a tourism business without sacrificing the foundation of the business – the environment and the local community.
It’s validation. We already know that we’re doing the right thing – hiring locally, investing in staff training, protecting the environment, and supporting local businesses – but having an outside party composed of international experts agree with us is still pretty cool.
It’s more promotion for us. Hey, we’re a business after all. Increased media exposure for us means (hopefully!) more guests. More guests means more staff, more local purchases, and more funding to continue what we’re doing. We wouldn’t have been able to install mooring buoys around Bacuit Bay in the 1990s if we didn’t have any money. More guests means more students of sustainable tourism. I’m also hoping that as a result of the promotional blitz for our win, we get more guests who chose to spend their holidays with us because of what we’re doing.
The Boss is asking us to plan a victory party. It’s going to take some doing since we have to coordinate with the resorts, ITI, TKP, and our partners in the local community. It’ll be worth it though because we’re going to celebrate a win that was 31 years in the making 🙂
Last night marked the first function held in the soon-to-open Pangulasian Island Resort here in El Nido. It was the awarding ceremony for our Top 10 travel agents for 2011 and as our president said, the TAs got to see Pangulasian even before the owners did 😛 I got roped into serving as “official photographer”. True to form, I elected to use my tiny Canon S95 over the Nikon DSLR they offered because I’ve used Canon cameras since 2002 and I have no idea where the controls are on a Nikon.
Everybody outdid themselves with the setup. Major shoutout to the Engineering, Garden, Food and Beverage, Kitchen, and Housekeeping departments for cleaning up a construction area and turning it into a five-star poolside setup in a day!
Yep, that is a freaking WHALE SHARK (Rhincodon typus) in front of Miniloc Island Resort. You can hear our excited squeals in the video 😛 Now, people have been spotting these whale sharks all around the bay starting December 2011 but those sightings tapered off in late January and this is my first time to see one. And I got to swim with it! How? I jumped into the water, not caring that I was in my full work uniform. No mask, no snorkel, no fins. Melo (one of our dive masters) was kind enough to lend me his mask so I could see. I swam with it for a good 10 minutes, treading water and realizing that I am severely out of shape. Sigh. It also wasn’t until later when I remembered that our uniform shorts turn transparent when wet >_< Raymond was kind enough not to say anything and just handed me a towel to wear around my waist until I got cleaned up.
The second part of what made this day awesome: my entry making it to the top 5 of the Philippine Travel Operators Association (PhilTOA) poster-making contest. YAY!!!! My entry:
Our company actually got 2 out of the 5 slots – our other entry featured my friend and coworker Rima’s turtle photo and my caption. Not bad for two Bio majors with no formal art-related training 😛 DOT Secretary Jimenez will be choosing the Top 3. I hope we win (and the prizes are awesome)! 😀
Thank goodness for plastic molds that make building sandcastles so much easier!
This photo was taken way back in 2008 on the beach of Pangulasian Island. At present, the island is the construction site for the company’s most luxurious and ambitious property to date. Pangulasian Island Resort is set to soft-open this May 2012, with the formal opening in October. Not sure yet if I’ll be transferring once the new resort opens. Let’s see what happens 🙂
Confession time: I’m not much of a plant person. There, I said it. They all look the same to me: green! So understand my happiness and trepidation with having a noted field biologist go around El Nido, identifying the plants and keeping an eye out for potential new species. We hosted Mr. Ulysses Ferreras last November 28-December 3 in El Nido. At the end of his stay, he gave a short presentation detailing the interesting and endemic plants we encountered during our short field surveys. The slidecast below is of his presentation.
Side note: I love Slideshare‘s slidecast function!!! You can sync recorded audio with the changing slides so it really feels as if you’re listening to the live presentation. It’s the much better option compared to video-recording a live presentation as you don’t have to worry about the speaker sometimes covering the screen and splitting the focus between the moving speaker and the screen.