CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga—This former American Air Force base, the largest outside the mainland United States, could be the next top Asian center for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibits or MICE events.
Officials of the first five-star Marriott and Resort Hotel, which will open on Sept. 14, expressed this Wednesday as they unveiled the $100-million property along Manuel A. Roxas Highway in the Clark Freeport Zone in Mabalacat City, Pampanga.
The new Marriott hotel is a part of the $1-billion expansion program of Widus International Leisure Inc. inside the Freeport, said Daesik Han, its president and CEO.
Charley Magabo, Marriott Clark director for sales and marketing, said the hotel can support the increasing demand for the holding of national and international conferences here.
“With the completion of the hotel, we are expecting huge convention and trade exhibits here,” Magbago said.
During a media forum, Magabo said the five-star hotel will also promote Clark not only as a tourism destination but also for entertainment like concerts and sport events.
Magabo said the first five-star hotel in Pampanga consists of a 16-storey building with 260 rooms, complete with airport shuttle, full service spa, fitness center, ballroom, meeting rooms, an interactive restaurant, swimming pool, and other features of a modern hotel.
“The new hotel will surely attract foreign travelers as a destination for MICE activities that contribute significantly to future of the global economy,” he said.
In 1982, Manila was the top venue for MICE in Asia until it dropped to the 18th in the ranking by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) in 2013.
Officials pointed to the transfer of the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation to the Tourism Promotion Board of the Department of Tourism in 2010 for the downturn.
For almost three decades, trade exhibits in the country were held almost exclusively at the 4,000 square meter Philippines International Convention Center in Pasay City.
Because of the lucrative and increasing demand of MICE, other countries in the region constructed their own convention centers to get their share of the market.
At present, the government is constructing multibillion-peso development projects in the Freeport as an alternative to congested Metro Manila.