By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
GOVERNMENT agencies, private sectors, and local government units (LGUs) in the province and city of Iloilo are now gearing up to position Iloilo as the next premiere Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) destination in the country.
On Friday, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the private sector presented the three-year MICE tourism marketing plan to the new and re-elected officials of the city and province of Iloilo.
The P50-million three-year plan, which was initially launched in February, aims to bring in national and international conventions in the City of Love.
According to DOT Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr., the first two years of the MICE tourism marketing plan includes promotions and attracting domestic conventions in Iloilo until it is ready host bigger conventions on its third year.
“What this program is doing is rationalizing all resources, setting up one major direction for everybody where part of the direction is improvement along the way, facilities wise, service wise, marketing and promotions wise,” Boncato said.
Boncato underscored the need for Iloilo to invest in MICE tourism especially because of its inclusive benefits to the different sectors of the community.
“It does not only provide direct jobs but indirect jobs and induce the creation of jobs. The impact goes outside even to the community outside the city. This is why we want this to happen in this part of the town,” he stressed.
According to Boncato, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) has accommodated 36,500 MICE attendees in 2017 and in just the first six months of 2019, it more than doubled to 79,198 MICE participants.
“We hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it’s an achievement. We achieved a certain standard. All of the meetings that transpired in Iloilo met a global standard, we served them well, we staged the meetings well,” he said.
Aside from the marketing plan, an Iloilo MICE Alliance Core Group (made up of representatives from the various sectors of accommodation, travel and tour operators, airlines, malls/specialty shops, farm sites, and restaurants, among others) was also presented.
Since February, the group has been meeting to discuss promos, incentives, and other plans to prepare and market Iloilo as the next premiere MICE destination.
Cleofe Albiso, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo, said that they have agreed to provide a number of incentives based on the number of MICE participants.
The accommodation sector, specifically participating hotel establishments will extend a five percent discount rate for the first night and an additional five percent room discounts on succeeding nights.
The ICC will give ten percent discount and free ingress to any MICE activities provided that the organizations/associations will lease the whole floor of the Convention Hall.
Albiso added that there will be several incentives and discounts for the MICE participants from participating restaurants, land transport sectors, tour operators, and even airlines.
DOT will also commit airport reception to MICE participants with cultural performances, welcome banners, and welcome leis to VIPs and speakers.
While it is difficult to put together companies and people with different interests, Albiso said they have put aside their corporate goals to collaborate and make the tourism plan happen.
“We have put our personal interests and corporate goals aside to collaborate to make this happen. We have to do this because if we do not work together, we can never move forward. We are not here to represent our brands because we know our businesses will fly once we really make this happen,” she said.
LGU officials who were present in the event – Senator Franklin Drilon, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas, and Iloilo City Rep. Julienne Baronda, among others – also signed a pledge of commitment to work together with the Iloilo MICE Core Group and to actively support its programs, projects, and activities to boost Iloilo’s economy through tourism industry.
Drilon, who had been one of the forces that pushed and supported of plan of putting Iloilo as a MICE destination, expressed his support to the tourism department in briefing the LGUs of the need to be united to achieve the goal of making the city as a MICE destination.
“I am so pleased that DOT has undertaken to make LGUs conscious of the need to be unified to make our city a MICE destination,” he said.
With its strategic and accessible location, Drilon emphasized that Iloilo has all the makings of an excellent MICE destination.
“It has major connections to domestic destinations and direct links to Singapore and Hong Kong; ample and high-quality facilities and accommodation; fantastic food; and numerous tourism destinations,” he said.
This was re-echoed by Boncato who lauded the seamless infrastructure in Iloilo.
“Iloilo is already a MICE destination even before this plan happened. You have seamless infrastructure like airport, roads, and you even have a bike lane. You build infrastructure that is something for the future and only few destinations can think of that way,” he added.
With the initial tagline of “Meet you in Iloilo: Iloilo Philippines, your next MICE Destination”, the Iloilo MICE Campaign Launch has a tentative date of October 10, 2019.
“By the time, it will be launched, it will be more organized. We will have a set of packages to entice more as the private sector said that the ICC is the golden hen, that’s why it is important that they support the biggest meeting facility in Iloilo. It’s already there, Iloilo is already MICE,” Boncato noted.