Negros Occidental cities honored at Berlin travel conference


SAGAY CITY and Bago City in Negros Occidental won recognition at the Green Destinations Story Awards at ITB Berlin, a major international travel and trade convention, on Tuesday.

Sagay City was accorded a special People’s Choice Award for its entry on the “Mangrove Forest Protection through Community-based EcoTourism Project,” which also helped the city place second in the Nature and Scenery Category. The city’s Suyac Island Mangrove Ecopark, located inside the Sagay Marine Reserve, is the first fully community-based ecotourism site in Sagay, offering an unparalleled experience and allowing travelers to connect with nature and local culture.

Bago City placed third in the Environment and Climate Category, for its entry “Reviving the Majestic Diversity of Bago Watershed.” Bago City’s Watershed plays a vital role in steering the economy of Negros Occidental by supplying water to about 19,000 hectares of agricultural areas. To protect, conserve and rehabilitate the watershed, the city government mobilized its resources and strengthened community involvement through the Integrated Ecosystem Management Approach (Ridge to Reef Environmental Management).

Its website says the Green Destinations Story Awards showcase the most inspirational initiatives for sustainable tourism development in six categories from submissions to the annual Green Destinations Top 100 Stories competition.

Green Destinations was created in the Netherlands in 2014 to support sustainable destinations, their businesses and their communities. Participants are given access to training modules on sustainable tourism practices, with award winners given extensive exposure that can encourage more travelers to these communities.

Private DMCs woo travel buyers in Berlin

Attending the ITB Berlin this year are 25 private destination management  companies (DMC) eager to sell tours to various key destinations in the Philippines, one of over 10,000 exhibitors at the event. Some 160,000 visitors were expected at the March 7 to 9 events at the Messe Berlin grounds.

In a news statement, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said, “ITB Berlin holds great opportunities for the Philippines to showcase to the world its award-winning destinations such as Boracay, Cebu, Siargao, and Palawan, and also to include Banaue, Intramuros, and South Cotabato, among others. We also look forward to giving the world a view into our distinct and diverse culture, as well as the country’s best asset: the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people.”

The Philippines booth at the ITB Berlin featured the country’s rich culture and sustainable tourism through the artistic works of T’nalak weaver Myrna Pula of South Cotabato and Yakan Weaver and Entrepreneur Angelita Pichay Ilul of Zamboanga. Visitors to the booth also got a taste of Philippine coffee and chocolates through Kape de Filipina, a brand offering products meticulously grown by farmers and communities in the Philippines.

Image credits: DOT