WEF on East Asia puts Philippines on MICE map (BusinessMirror)

NEXT week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia highlights the growing importance of the Philippines as a venue for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE), which will help the country attain its visitor arrivals targets in the next three years.

“The geographical reality is, when you look at the map of Asia, the Philippines, being at the center, has the power to cut travel time and conference time for everyone. For instance, [we’re] only four hours away [from Japan]. Everyone else is seven hours away from each other. The open skies policy of the government has also made it easier for everyone to get fast here,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said at a pre-conference news briefing at the Fairmont Hotel on Thursday.

“While it is not a huge venue, it is a high-end and efficient venue, a lot of high-end services are required [which we can deliver], we are English speaking, we have business process services, it’s really a major phenomenon,” he added.

At present, MICE contributes about 11 to 12 percent to current tourism receipts. Under the National Tourism Development Plan of 2011 to 2016, the Department of Tourism hopes to raise the MICE contribution to 22 percent by 2016.

Aside from the WEF on East Asia next week, the Philippines will be hosting the Asean Finance Ministers Meeting this year, the Asean Business Council, “an investment conference next week,” the Apec Leaders’ Summit in 2015, and Asean conference in 2017, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said at the same news briefing.

With the theme “Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress,” the WEF on East Asia will be attracting 600 participants from 30 countries, including 460 business leaders from more than 25 industry sectors.

Asked about recent problems at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), which could put off WEF delegates, Purisima said: “As you know, we are in the midst of renovating Naia 1 and 3. We are fortunate to have three terminals to distribute the load. We are working with the [Department of Transportation and Communication] and [Manila International Airport Authority] to field assistance to delegates, facilitate transit upon arrival and departure, and we have complimentary shuttles between the airport and hotels. We have also informed the airlines to facilitate the check-in process. It is a challenge, but we hope participants will look at the experience from the  Philippines in a positive manner.”

Travelers have recently complained of the poor air-conditioning system at the Naia passenger terminals, including the long queues at the immigration counters, as well as the long wait for baggage retrieval.

Purisima said the Department of Budget and Management has allocated P71 million for the Philippines to host the WEF on East Asia. “We’re within the budget, but we’re supported by the private sector. We have Ayala Land Inc. as a sponsor and private-sector partner in this undertaking, while ICTSI is another member of the WEF.”

For his part, Jimenez expressed optimism that the growing number of conferences and conventions in the country will help the Philippines attain its visitor-arrivals target of 6.8 million this year. “That target is still within the picture,” he said. “From an income standpoint, if we break 5 million [in visitor arrivals}, we’re already on target, we will hit our revenue targets.”

The Tourism department has projected tourism receipts to hit $6.07 billion in 2014, reaching $8 billion in 2016.

The agency, however, has missed its visitor-arrivals targets in the past two years mainly due to the political skirmishes in some parts of Mindanao, diplomatic issues with China and Hong Kong, as well as a slew of national calamities, such as an earthquake and a super typhoon.

“The absolute numbers [of visitor arrivals] are nice to have on paper, but it’s better if we can attract the MICE market,” the tourism chief said. To accomplish this, he said the Department of Tourism’s marketing arm, the Tourism Promotions Board, has been selling the Philippines as a MICE destination in the travel exhibits and conventions it attends abroad.

He added the government is also “facilitating the construction” of bigger convention and exhibition venues. In Cebu, for example, the SM Group is constructing a new convention center “that will dwarf SMX [in Manila], so we can host really large exhibitions like agricultural machinery.”

Jimenez the government is also taking a look at antiquated Customs regulations that are seen hampering the participation in and mounting of exhibitions in Manila.

In Photo: Over 600 participants from 30 countries, including 460 business leaders from more than 25 industry sectors, will be attending the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Manila from May 21 to 23. According to Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima (second from left), the government will be spending not more than P71 billion for the event, with support from private companies like Ayala Land Inc. and International Container Terminal Services Inc. The forum, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. (left) said, puts the Philippines on the global map for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, a major tourism driver for many destination countries. Others in photo are, Sushant Palakurthi Rao (third from left), senior director, head of Asia, for the WEF, and the host of the news briefing. (Stella Arnaldo)


by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

    May 16, 2014


Original Source: http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/economy/32233-wef-on-east-asia-puts-philippines-on-mice-map