DAVAO CITY(MindaNews/08 March)—President Benigno Aquino III formally opened Thursday the four-day 2013 Meetings, Incentive Travels, Conventions, Exhibitions and Events conference (MICE Con) here, which was attended by at least 600 delegates or thrice the expected number of local and foreign participants.
Held at the SMX Convention Center here, the participants include resort, hotel and travel and tour operators, airline companies, professional congress organizers, the academe and local and national government tourism officials.
Aquino said conferences like MICE Con “go a long way towards enhancing our abilities to handle events—from sharing expertise on topics such as the successful branding of countries, to straightforward discussions on how to make meetings and conferences memorable.”
“Personally speaking, this will be very helpful since the Philippines is positioning itself to become a player again in the MICE industry,” he added.
The administration has been actively campaigning to host future big events that will involve the participation of top global government and industry leaders, according to him.
Among the major events Aquino cited are the East Asia Summit of the World Economic Forum, the Joint Session of the UNWTO (United Nation’s World Tourism Organization) Regional Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and Regional Commission for South Asia, both slated next year, and the APEC Leader’s Summit in 2015.
“Some of you may ask: what give us the confidence to be so aggressive in making these bids? It is because we know that we have the facilities, the skills and the competence to get things done. Just as our front-end campaign states that “It is more fun in the Philippines,” our back-end success is based on another basic truth: the Philippines works,” Aquino said.
The President noted that the MICE industry gives the country an opportunity to show travelers that “we can meet both their professional and their leisure needs.”
“If they enjoy our country, these visitors could decide to extend their stay, return for a vacation, recommend us to others, or even set up shop here,” he stressed.
Rizia Ivy Tan, president of the Davao City Travel Agencies Association (DTAA), earlier said they expect 200 participants to the 2013 MICE Con, with foreign delegates invited for the first time ever.
The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), MICE Con’s organizer, invited at least 12 speakers to discuss industry practices and global trends.
The invited foreign speakers were from Australia, United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong, with the TPB saying the conference will help the country’s tourism industry “take advantage of this ever-growing lucrative sector worldwide.”
Among the topics for discussion were the future of travel in the Asia Pacific, “Is the worst over or it is yet to come?”, “Content is King”, “Rise of Asian brands”, “Brand strategy on a tight budget”, “Keeping associations healthy, wealthy and wise”, “The tourism and business value of meetings”, and, “Tips, tricks and techniques for an extraordinary event experience.”
A business-to-business and face-to-face meeting between buyers and sellers of travel and tour products, services and facilities dubbed “MICE Mart” will be held on Saturday.
The Department of Tourism earlier said 40 foreign buyers from nine countries and 10 local ones confirmed “to do business with sellers coming from all over the country.”
Domingo Ramon Enerio III, TPB chief operating officer, earlier said that the conference, which is the biggest gathering of MICE professionals, will help further promote the city as a MICE destination in the Southern Philippines. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)