The Shoco Award of Excellence goes to Wichita Villacres of Eco Destination Management Company

Aruba’s Minister of Tourism, Transportation and Labour presented Wichita Villacres with the island’s SHOCO National Award of Tourism 2011, for her pioneering spirit in the introduction of the MICE market to Aruba.

Twenty-four years ago Villacres started her company ECO DMS here, with the desire to serve the group conventions and meetings market. Her young organization met success when the island of Aruba was finally discovered by meeting planners who booked clients on incentive trips allowing ECO DMS the opportunity to make them unforgettable successes.

While active in the tourist-market Villacres launched Aruba’s first scholarship program for local students wishing to further their education in the tourism field. The Artousa scholarship was accompanied by an elaborate fundraising plan combined with an award program which rewarded success in hospitality in the 90s.

All along Villacres pushed and lobbied for the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, an international, non-profit, professional association exclusively devoted to the pursuit of excellence in incentive global market to hold its meetings in Aruba, as a way of introducing the island and all its treasures to top decision makers in the travel industry.

Her dream came true two years ago, when the SITE international Conference unfolded here with members of the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives came here for an important business forum.

Villacres also served as the SITE International co-chair for the meeting, entrusted with the organization of the events designed to showcase Aruba to the esteemed visitors, in collaboration with a local committee. The conference brought together the top minds in incentive travel, a multi-billion dollar global industry, which benefitted the island greatly.

The Minister outlined Villacres’ achievement on behalf of the island as he presented her with the Shoco Award, named after the late Simon Oduber, an employee of the Aruba Tourism Authority who tirelessly worked to develop group travel to Aruba.

The Shoco is not the first accolade for ECO DMS who throughout its journey towards success delivered outstanding events and has been presented with some other prestigious industry awards such as The IMA Circle of Excellence Award, which defines best practices in the development and execution of successful incentive programs, presented by Incentive Marketing Association, and two reputable SITE Crystal Awards both for outstanding and unique theme event creations, presented by the Site. Lastly, the Carlson Marketing Crystal Awards, for the “Outstanding Ovation Award” for the most creative DMC.

While in past years the Shoco recognitions were bestowed by the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, this year the awards were taken over by the Ministry of Tourism, Transportation and Labour, lending the program extra stature which accompanies official government citations. AHATA however remained as one of the proud main sponsors in conjunction with Digicel and Caribbean Mercantile Bank.

Pictured here The Minister, Otmar Oduber, Wichita Villacres, ECO DMS, also Bert Kamsteeg of BK Consult the recipient of another Shoco Award of Excellence for efforts in sustainability!

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December 08, 2011
Rona Coster