Our fast-rising tourism industry, just like those of other countries, is always finding ways to get a bigger chunk of the worldwide MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions, and Exhibitions) simply because it is a high-yield component of the industry.
Participants to these events are, more often than not, on company business, which means they can afford to stay at more expensive hotels, eat in fancy restaurants, drink more expensive wines, and book the more expensive domestic tours.
Several decades ago, when the Philippine International Convention Center opened, our country was Asia’s leader in hosting these MICE events. Unfortunately, our neighbors built their own, plus many more alternative venues, making them overtake us in this aspect. Now, we rank only 12th in the Asian region.
How can we go back on top? That is what we, leaders of the different tourism organizations in the country, recently put our heads together for. I belong to the Marketing Sub-Working Group assigned to craft the MICE Road Map that will put us back on top again.
The Tourism Promotions Board is the lead agency tasked to ensure that our MICE industry zooms all the way up. According to its promotional materials, it offers its expertise to event organizers and meeting planners by providing them with valuable contacts both in the government and private sectors.
It also arranges for site inspection trips and technical visits to help with planning and decision-making.
TPB also offers pre- and post-event tours with imaginative and unique incentive experience and itineraries geared towards the client’s goals. Of course, it can facilitate the arrival of foreign groups and VIPs, in coordination with agencies at the airport.
So, what are the top MICE destinations in our country? We have six that we can truly be proud of, not only because they showcase our world-class venues which are fully equipped with modern technology, but also because they banner how nature has blessed our country. Here are our top bets to regain our MICE industry lead in the region, with descriptions courtesy of TPB.
Metro Manila is an exciting, colorful, and complex metropolis composed of 16 cities and one municipality. It is the political, economic, social, cultural, and recreational hub of our country. Manila is a popular business event destination, thanks to its world-class facilities, a globally connected business population, and the friendliest dedicated teams of support professionals.
Cebu beckons business events participants as it tempts them with its pristine beaches, crystalline waters, and affordable luxury resorts. A unique blend of natural beauty, historic sites, and urban living,
Cebu is the seat of Christianity, where Ferdinand Magellan first planted his world-famous cross, and is a bustling metropolis with a glittering nightlife.
The tiny island of Boracay is practically a mainstay in Conde Nast’s list of the world’s favorite beach destinations. Its white sand beach, lined with lush palm trees, makes it ideal for those seaside massage under the shade of the coconut trees. From dusk to dawn, island life turns into one big party scene, with everyone welcome to join in.
Palawan, with its 1,700 islands and islets, is the World’s Best Island, as voted by Travel and Leisure magazine. Its bewitching landscape includes lagoons and bays that hide ancient shipwrecks. It is a wildlife haven where giraffes, zebras, and gazelles coexist with exotic fauna such as mouse deer, civet, and scaly anteater.
Our President’s home province, Davao, has the most expansive landscape in the country and is covered with exotic fruit plantations and orchid farms. The majestic Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, lords over migrant settlers from all over the archipelago, co-existing with ethnic tribes who continue to live according to how they did centuries ago.
Nature has blessed Bohol with a lush landscape of verdant hills, waterfalls, serene rivers, mangrove forests, undisturbed wildlife, and powdery white sand beaches. One can marvel at nature’s glory through the famous Chocolate Hills, the cute little tarsiers, or sail on the stress-relieving Loboc River Cruise.
With all these beautiful natural attractions offered hand-in-hand with world-class facilities, our country is definitely ready to host all kinds of business events—from a mega-event that fits into the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena, like the Opening Ceremonies of the Southeast Asian Games later this year, to small business meetings in any of our beach resorts.
Talking about small business meetings, remember my comment three columns ago about the Department of Tourism and Subic Bay Metropolitan Agency officers who left our Subic Bay meeting immediately after their respective presentations? Ms. Mary Jamelle Camba, tourism manager of SBMA informed me after reading my column that when she received the invitation, she immediately notified the organizer that she would have to leave immediately after her talk due to another commitment she had already confirmed for. The DoT officer gave the same reason when I asked her onsite about her early departure.
When we, the tourism leaders from Manila, got invited, we thought there would be a “meeting of the minds,” with DoT and SBMA listening to our views on how we could help the area’s tourism industry.
We prepared our respective Power Point Presentations, hurdled the 2.5-hour, 167-kilometer drive to Subic, and forfeited our valuable weekend. This is why we were disappointed when we felt left out in the cold.
But we live in an imperfect world. Not everything turns out exactly the way we want it to be. However, based on how driven TPB is in putting our MICE industry back on top again, and with God’s wonderful, awesome blessings on our natural environment, I know we will get there in no time…because business events are more fun in the Philippines!
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE
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