‘TOURISM ISTARS’: DOT-6 recognizes sustainable, gender-responsive tourism efforts

(From left to right) Lakbayan Project founder Zenaida Santos (keynote speaker), former Silay City Tourism Officer Severino Pacete, Boracay businesswoman Claribel Casimero, San Ramon Abaca Handicraft Association manager Villaflor Javier, Brgy. VI-A Victorias City captain Anna Mae Claro, and Richmonde Hotel Iloilo General Manager Natalie Lim. (Photo from Department of Tourism-Western Visayas Office/Facebook)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Department of Tourism-Region 6 (DOT-6) celebrated contributions to sustainable and gender-responsive tourism on Monday, March 25 by recognizing those who have significantly uplifted the industry.

During the second annual Icons of Sustainable Tourism Awards and Recognition (ISTAR) event in Iloilo City, coinciding with National Women’s Month, DOT-6 honored regional figures who have excelled in tourism while promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

This year’s ISTAR honorees, who were selected based on their exemplary performance towards tourism development, and at the same time, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, include:

  • Severino Pacete from Silay City, Negros Occidental (Tourism Education);
  • Ana Mae Claro from Victorias City, Negros Occidental (EcoTourism);
  • Natalie Lim from Iloilo City (Hospitality and Tourism Services);
  • Claribel Casimero from Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan (Hospitality and Tourism Services);
  • Villaflor Javier of Malinao, Aklan (Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry); and
  • Herminia Reyes of Guimaras (Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry).

DOT-6 Regional Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said ISTAR was established recognize champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the tourism sector.

“This prestigious recognition highlights those who embody the essence of sustainable tourism with a passion that resonates with their ‘Love the Philippines’ ethos, where every effort counts in nurturing an inclusive and equitable industry,” Rodriguez said.

“Our celebration is a testament to the remarkable individuals who amplify the campaign’s message, demonstrating their love for the Philippines through actions that ensure sustainable growth and opportunity for all in tourism. This event is a platform to illuminate their success stories [that] will inspire others to excel in their fields,” she added.

Iloilo City Tourism Council chairperson Ma. Amihan Panes, one of the members of ISTAR’s panel of judges, stated that their selection was based on how their achievements will inspire more in the industry.

“To be an icon means to be a model of passion, commitment, and dedication. However, behind all this, is a person who is hardworking, dedicated, and with determination. They excel in different areas, […] but they have a common denominator and what is that? They are each a light for others,” Panes said.

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