BACOLOD CITY — The province of Negros Occidental won big in the 2017 Pearl Awards, making it to the Hall of Fame after the Panaad sa Negros Festival was hailed Best Tourism Event – Provincial Festival category for three straight years.
This year’s awards rites, organized by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines and the Department of Tourism, was held at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City Friday night.
Negros Occidental first won the distinction in 2008, and again in 2014, 2015, and 2016, which elevated it to the Hall of Fame along with Laguna’s La Laguna Festival.
Ma. Lina Sanogal, provincial planning head and festival executive director, said the award is a “nice gift” as Panaad is set to turn 25.
“This award is significant as we are celebrating the 25th year of the festival next year. We are already a top destination for domestic tourists, but this latest recognition will further bring in more tourists to Negros, especially to our festivals,” Sanogal said on Saturday.
She noted that other provinces have been coming to Negros Occidental to learn from its initiatives, adding that tourism is one of the main drivers of the province’s economy.
For this year’s award, Negros Occidental bested Bataan, Pangasinan and Bulacan.
Held every summer, usually in April, Panaad is dubbed “the festival of all festivals”.
It features the festivals of the 13 cities and 19 towns of Negros Occidental, and showcases an array of themed pavilions of 32 localities that highlight their history, arts, culture, commerce, trade and industry.
Five cities in Negros Occidental – Sipalay, Sagay, Victorias, Silay and Cadiz – also won major awards.
Grand winners were Sipalay City’s Kite Festival for Best Tourism Event – Sports category; Sagay City, Best Tourism Month Celebration – City category; and Sagay’s Suyac Island Journey: Coastal Communities Resources Advocacies to Boost Sustainability, Best Practices on Community-based Responsible Tourism.
Sipalay was also named first runner-up for Best Tourism Month Celebration – City category.
Second runners-up were Victorias Agri-Ecotourism Enhancement Program for Best Practices on Community-Based Responsible Tourism; Silay Heritage Program, Best Community-Based Heritage Conservation Project – City category; and Cadiz City, Best Tourism-Oriented LGU – City category. (PNA)