With thanks to the late American author, John Steinbeck for having inspired the title of my today’s column, I am particularly pleased that our Department of Tourism is leaving no stone unturned in getting a bigger chunk of the lucrative MICE market. This is the tourism industry’s acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions.
For this purpose, DoT has partnered with the Philippine Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers, with the cooperation of the Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Investments, and the Tourism Promotions Board.
At a recent meeting participated in by representatives from the government and private sectors related to the tourism industry, DoT and PACEOS presented the MICE Road Map to 2030, getting everybody excited and involved in their collective effort to put the country back to being in the lead again in this industry.
These two government agencies also wanted to raise the consciousness on the importance of this industry in driving economic growth, towards getting the budget and institutional support from the concerned agencies, towards boosting the country’s competitiveness.
In 1982, we were the only country in Asia with an International Convention Center, thus we ranked first in this industry, among all countries in the region. However, in 2016, our neighboring countries surpassed us, as they grew faster in this industry, pulling us down to 14th place, in terms of having the most number of MICE events in the region.
Why is this a lucrative industry? A MICE delegate spends an average of nearly six times more than what an average leisure tourist spends. This expenditure creates a multiplier effect not only within the tourism industry but also in the other industries.
Aside from the much valued earnings, MICE stimulates trade and investment, facilitates technology transfer, boosts tourism and entertainment, and fosters regional collaboration through cultural exchange and global understanding. More importantly, it builds a positive image for the country.
After a careful consideration of the various factors affecting the country’s prospects in the industry through a SWOT Analysis, the two lead agencies found it vital to form four sub-working groups and asked for volunteers from the meeting’s attendees for membership in these groups. The mandate for each is based on the strategies that have to be implemented to achieve the Road Map’s goal.
One group will handle Policies and Governance, another one will take care of concerns on Infrastructure, while another group will focus on the Human Capital needed to make the industry function according to established world-class standards. The group that I joined will take care of Marketing.
With these sub-working groups functioning seamlessly and going full speed ahead, there is no doubt the country will zoom up from its present lodge of being 14th in the region to being in the top 10 by 2030, in terms of having the most number of events.
The current mantra of the government, “Build, Build, Build,” is a big help to achieving this industry’s goal because new hotels and new events venues are now being constructed to further augment the choices available for foreign and local events organizers.
Now who would ever think that the sound-alike of lowly rodents could bring big things to a country? I’m sure John Steinbeck never even dreamed of that when he wrote his popular novel.
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