Subic’s popular tourism destination Ocean Adventure Marine Park came out the runaway winner in the Best Theme Park category in the First Philippine Tourism Industry Awards held on Tuesday night at the Okada Manila Hotel.

Ocean Adventure, which owns the distinction of being the only open-water marine park in Southeast Asia, capitalizes on its encounter sessions with whales, dolphins and sea lions, indoor aquariums, as well as displays and educational lectures on indigenous fauna found in Subic.

The Subic park bested several nominees in the category, including Danao Adventure Park in Bohol province, which boasts of having the longest zip line in the country, and Campuestohan Highland Resort in Negros Occidental, which offers adventure rides.

The Philippine Tourism Industry Awards, organized by the United Stars Events and Exhibitions Corp., aims to recognize establishments and individuals with significant contributions in the overall tourism impact to the growing number of tourists in the country.

Aside from the Best Theme Park category, the organizers also gave out awards for Major Tourist Attraction, Best Festival, Ecotourism, Cultural Tourism, Farm Tourism, Wellness Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Best Hotel, Best Resort, Unique Accommodation, Major Tour and Transport Operator, Best Waterpark, Best Travel Oriented Magazine, Best Travel and Tour Agency-SME, Excellence in Food Tourism, Best Historical Museum, Best Modern Museum, Best Special Interest Museum, Lifetime Achievement Award-Accommodation and Most Outstanding Tour Guide.

Organizers said the awards are seen to become the standard of excellence in showcasing the country’s best tourism products, services and experiences.

In accepting the award, Ocean Adventure CEO Scott Sharpe said Ocean Adventure had “always aspired to give our guests a memorable experience, one they will cherish the rest of their lives and hopefully, keep them coming back for more.” He added the company also “aims to become a catalyst for economic development in the Subic Freeport Zone,” adding a successful tourism destination like Ocean Adventure creates more jobs as it becomes recognized in the industry for excellence.

“We are proud of what our company has achieved over the years, and we look forward to many more years of striving to become even more attractive to Philippine audiences,” Sharpe said.

As an open-water park, Ocean Adventure places its animals—aptly described as “ambassadors” of the animal kingdom—in a natural setting replete with corals and other marine life.

Its three main attractions are the Sea Lion Show, Whale Presentation and Discovery Aquarium.