DESPITE activities and various affairs rendered limited by the coronavirus, organizers of the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards (PSTA) still got to stage the fourth edition of the event, honoring movers and shakers of the industry.

Recently held at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, the PSTA, organized by Selrahco Management and Consultancy Services, honored various organizations and personalities for their contribution to the sports tourism sector for the year 2019.

Leading the awardees were Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo, who were named the year’s top sports tourism personalities in the private and government sectors, respectively.

Other winners were People’s Television Network (news coverage), Philippine Airlines (air carrier), Run With Me of Resorts World Manila (charity event), Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines (event sponsorship), The Mansion Boutique Hotel and Villas (hotel), Triathlon Association of the Philippines (sports association), Tinman Ilocos Norte (domestic event), Ironman 70.3 (international event), and Sunrise Events, Inc. (private organizer).

Also part of the winner’s circle in the government sector were Dumaguete City (event organizer), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (destination marketing), Clark Development Corp. (top destination), and New Clark City (sports venue).

PSTA chairman and founder Charles Lim said in a release that while they could have opted to postpone the handing out of the awards, they deemed it important to show that notwithstanding the challenges that 2020 presented with the pandemic, there is still hope for a bounce back for the sector and that events can be successfully staged provided the proper protocols are followed.

“This event happening in Clark shows we have gone an extra mile to practice safety protocols. PSTA could not just let the year pass without recognizing the efforts of athletes, event organizers, local governments, tourism officials, and private individuals who have made 2019 a bumper year for sports and tourism,” he said.

Mr. Lim went on to say that it was also fitting that the event happened in Clark, which is one of the places in the country proving resilient and conducive for sports tourism amid the pandemic.

Citing the Philippine Basketball Association, which successfully held its tournament bubble in the area last year, Mr. Lim said it shows what the area offers and bodes well for the sports tourism sector.

“These trailblazing initiatives, which promote health and safety in an unprecedented time, are a good sign to where the sports tourism sector is headed this 2021.”

First held in 2016, the PSTA is jointly organized by stakeholders both from the government and private sector and designed to recognize events, destinations, local government units, national sports association, private companies and event organizers that have contributed to the growth of the local sports tourism industry.

It is also geared towards inspiring local players to further step up their game in pushing the Philippines as a top sports tourism destination in the world.

The latest PSTA was supported by Clark Development Corp. (CDC), the City of Mabalacat, Smart Communications, Universal Robina Corp., and Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo