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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Christmas cheer for sports tourism

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Merry Christmas, dear Readers. May our Lord continue to pour His blessings upon all of you! The challenges we face in this pandemic is His way of making us stronger, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Here’s a good example. I have to hand it to Charles Lim, founder and president of the prestigious Philippine Sports Tourism Awards. He defied all odds! When he mentioned to me, during the early months of this pandemic, that he still planned to push through with this yearly event, I thought he has had too many sips of Jack Daniels.

Well, it turned out that he doesn’t drink and was dead serious with his plan.

The awardees pose for posterity with their trophies.

Two months ago, when he sounded like he had already finalized all the details of the event, deep in my heart I still had strong doubts that such a scheme would come to fruition. I honestly felt that, because people were too preoccupied with having to deal with this global malady, it would be very difficult for his quixotic plan to attract the support of sponsors or even of the awardees themselves.

But his “go-getter” attitude and his “hang tough” spirit proved me wrong. He was able to bring in, easily, all the sponsors and participants he needed to make it a memorable evening for the awardees. The venue was packed to within the limits set by our Inter-Agency Task Force. Amidst the usual health protocols, the glittering evening proceeded without a hitch.  

In my book, Charles Lim is a present-day Merlin, and he has brought Christmas cheer not only to sports tourism, but also to the whole industry.

The modern-day Merlin, Charles Lim, founder and president of the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards.

A total of 16 personalities and sports tourism supporters clutched their respective 2019 trophies at the end of the evening, all of them brimming with expectant faith that sports tourism will definitely spark a faster reboot of our tourism industry.

Named as the Sports Tourism Charity Event was Resort World Manila’s Run With Me X, the entertainment complex’s yearly project which promotes health, charity, and camaraderie. Last year had 7,000 runners, breaking the tally of 5,000 the year before.

The award for Sports Tourism Adventure Event was given to Tour de Cebu. It is a convoy of approximately 70 vintage and classic sports cars going around Cebu and Negros Oriental, promoting the attractions and the culture of the places visited.

The Sports Tourism Event (Domestic) was the TinMan of Tri Ilocos Norte which is a multisport innovation serving as a platform for health-conscious communities, while working for their sustainable development. The award for this category’s International division was given to 70.3 Ironman Cebu, the iconic triathlon event which, last year, attracted 2,200 participants from 57 countries.

Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo was honored with two trophies, one for his city and another one for himself.

Of course, the Sports Tourism Airline was Philippine Airlines, for its hosting of the PAL Interclub, the longest running (72 years) amateur golf annual championship. Held in Cebu last year, there were 101 participating teams, including players from a dozen countries using approximately 3,000 room nights in various Cebu hotels.  

Chosen Sports Tourism Organizer (Government) was Dumaguete City, for consistently supporting and organizing sports events on a year-round basis. The award for the Private division of this category was given to Sunrise Events Inc., for its staging of more than a dozen sporting events each year, including Xterra, Ironkids, Irongirl, and its centerpiece, Ironman 70.3.

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. was honored for being the prime brand enabler for sports tourism in the country, having fully supported the 25th Siargao International Cup. Named as the Sports Tourism Hotel was The Mansion Boutique Hotels and Villas, for providing athletes and coaches excellent training facilities and dietary requirements that suit would-be champions.

Sonny Barrios, executive director of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, receives the award for Manny Pangilinan.

People’s Television Network was awarded for Sports Tourism Media Coverage, for its PTV Sports, the country’s only all-sports-news program. The Triathlon Association of the Philippines won the Sports Tourism Association award, as the impressive governing body for triathlon events during the Southeast Asian Games.

It is no surprise that New Clark City, the modern facility which accommodated more than 8,000 athletes from 11 countries during the Southeast Asian Games, was chosen as the Sports Tourism Venue.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority was honored with the Sports Tourism Destination Marketing award, for consistently hosting a monthly average of 80 sports and MICE events through the years, and for hosting 17 sports events during the Southeast Asian Games. The Sports Tourism Destination award went to Clark Freeport Zone, for continuing to elevate the sports industry standards in the country with its top-notch and exceptional venues.

 The glittering stage, all set for the evening’s activities.

Sports Tourism Personality (Private) was Manny Pangilinan, who served as the first President and is now the Chairman Emeritus of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). He also put up the MVP Sports Foundation which continues to support and develop world-class sports champions. His award was received by Sonny Barrios, SBP executive director.  

The Sports Tourism Personality (Government) was given to Felipe Remollo, Mayor of Dumaguete City, for successfully hosting and providing support to more than a dozen national and regional events in his city. He is also credited for Clark’s popularity as a sports destination because he started it all, with his sports tourism development plan, nine years ago when he was the chief executive officer of Clark Development Corp.

And that’s what my present-day Merlin, Charles Lim, put together for this year, in spite of the debilitating impact of the pandemic currently gripping our world. Boy, am I glad he’s part of our industry! Easy as pie, he brought Christmas cheer to sports tourism.


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