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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Keeping sports tourism alive

As mentioned in the past, my beloved sports is taking a serious beating because of the pandemic. 

I am talking of local conditions as no organized sports events are allowed with all kinds of leagues suspending their respective activities, including basketball, amateur and professional, volleyball, football, softball, baseball and more. After all, a lot of sports depend on spectators to give it marketing value. 

That is why I have to give it to the Department of Tourism for the support it is giving to a Cebu-based private group, the Selrahco Management and Consultancy Services, for the group’s effort to keep one aspect of sports alive.  

You see in the past, I have not just limited my writing to sports as I also dabbled in travel and lifestyle, and as such, I have done a lot of travel stories and was getting invites from the Department of Tourism to cover such events, among others. 

The DoT has identified sports tourism as a major segment in its overall plans and programs. Events that have been attracting both local and foreign visitors, either as athletes, officials, or just plain participants, who spend money while here in the country, have been recognized and supported by DoT in the past.

It is this segment that the said management group is trying to keep alive by reviving it with the opening of nominations for the 4th Philippine Sports Tourism Awards (PSTA) to recognize anew sports groups, private entities and government agencies based on events organized or hosted in 2019.

Previous PSTA awardee events and organizers include the Ironman70.3, Sunrise events of PBA team owner Fred Uytengsu, the Philippine Football Association, Ceres Football Club and the Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Federation, while government awardees have been Clark Development Corporation, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the province of Cebu, the cities of Davao and Dumaguete and the municipality of Lubao, Pampanga.

Subic was named Destination of the Year in the first two editions of the PSTA, while Clark bagged the award the following year.

The Philippines’ successful hosting of the 30th SEA Games last year, which we won as runaway overall champions, was, for me, would be the hands down choice for the Sports Tourism Event, considering the number of participating countries and athletes, and I shudder to think what would have happened had this pandemic struck during the games. 

The categories for nominations are the Sports Tourism Destination of the Year, either Clark or Subic, I guess because of the SEA Games, Sports Tourism Organizer, Sports Tourism Sports Association, Sports Tourism Destination Marketing, Sports Tourism Hotel, Sports Tourism Event Sponsorship, Sports Tourism Charity Event, Sports Tourism Airline, Sports Tour Operator, Adventure Event, Sports  Venue, Sports MICE Event and Sports Media Coverage.

The PSTA encourages professionalism in the planning and management of sporting events to help promote tourism.

In fact, PSTA founder and president  Charles Lim says the local sports community is encouraging both Clark and Subic to jumpstart the recovery of the sector as these places have relatively lower incidences of COVID-19 because of their strict health protocols.  

And both Clark Development Corporation president Noel Manankil and SBMA chair Atty. Wikma Eisma are optimistic of being able to resume their sporting events as soon as allowed by the government.

Depending on the situation, the PSTA awarding is tentatively set in December and the organizers are hoping they can start receiving nominations for the different categories.

I believe I will be there at the awarding, too. 

Sports has to come alive once more. For one, I really miss it.

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