Those of us in the tourism industry welcome this year, the Year of the Rabbit, with a lot of hope and buoyancy because the rabbit, according to Chinese culture, symbolizes prosperity and longevity.
This is the reason why the Philippine Chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the biggest tourism organization in the world, unleashed its first energized salvo for the year during its recent Business Assembly, the coined term for its General Membership Meeting.
The association’s unbridled optimism over its limitless growth opportunities starting this year has given its members enough reason to celebrate, now that health restrictions have been drastically lowered and the world has opened its borders to travelers from all over.
It is PATA’s practice to have a mini-B2B set up prior to the start of its Business Assembly where some members put up display counters to market their products and services to the rest of the members. There were ten enterprises that participated – Marketing Highlands, Hotel 101, Seda Hotel BGC, Crown Regency Hotels and Resorts, Kingstar Travel, Kabayan Hotel Pasay, Ark Travel Express, Le Soleil de Boracay, Hilton Manila, and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the Platinum Sponsor of the event.
Farid Schoucair, the amiable general manager of The Heritage Hotel Manila (THHM), the venue for the event, gave the welcome remarks and briefed the audience with very important statistics that gave a clear picture of the current recovery process of our country’s tourism industry.
In my capacity as chairman of the association, I asked everyone to give ourselves a big round of applause for having survived the pandemic, and for having the Herculean strength to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges we were all faced with during the two-and-a-half-year scourge. I also encouraged the members to continue supporting each other to ensure the continued success of our dedicated efforts in bringing our industry back to pre-pandemic levels.
The event’s main speaker was Virgilio Maguigad, director, Office of Tourism Standard and Regulations of the Department of Tourism (DOT). Prior to this posting, he and I used to work together as part-time faculty members at the Lyceum of the Philippines University.
Maguigad spoke about the requirements and the benefits of the much talked about DOT accreditation, which is a primary requirement of membership to our association. Such precondition is PATA’s way of policing our ranks, and seeing to it that all our members observe the proper and approved procedures in all their business transactions.
DOT Undersecretary Verna Buensuceso, who is also vice-chairman of our association, gave us an update on the latest activities and promotional efforts of the DOT. It is worth mentioning that PATA is unique because it is the only tourism organization in the Philippines that has direct access to the Department of Tourism.
Our Constitution and By-Laws require that our vice-chairman and our secretary general should both be high-ranking officers of the DOT, and they are Usec. Buensuceso and Director Rowena Sorioso, respectively. This, definitely, is an added incentive to PATA’s membership because the challenges they are faced with are immediately brought to DOT’s attention.
To further emphasize our enthusiasm over the new Lunar Year, the customary dragon dance was performed during dinner, much to the delight of the audience. A group of young men later performed the newest dance craze to get everybody into a dancing mood. Sure enough, after dinner, members were seen tripping the light fantastically, without a care in the world, enjoying every beat of the music, in jubilation over our reenergized tourism industry.
It certainly was a good start for the Lunar Year, as our tourism stakeholders have now equipped themselves with the resolve to bring back our Industry to its pre-pandemic golden years. So, there goes PATA…hopping forward…with grit, determination, and perseverance!
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE
Q: A man, shocked by how his buddy is dressed, asks him, “How long have you been wearing that bra?”
A: The friend replies, “Ever since my wife found it in my car’s glove compartment.”
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