By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is planning the construction of a much larger convention center in Iloilo, enabling it to host international events in the future.
TIEZA Chief Operations Officer Mark Lapid, along with Uswag Partylist Rep. James “Jojo” Ang and Iloilo City Rep. Julienne Baronda, is currently finalizing the paperwork for the proposed international convention center.
“Cong. Jojo and I are discussing having an international convention center […] I think the (Iloilo Convention Center) is too small right now to host an international event. The target of Cong. Jojo Ang is to host big concerts, events like PBA,” said Lapid in a press conference on the sideline of attending the Dinagyang Festival over the weekend.
The Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) at the Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao district has a 3,700-seat capacity at the main hall on the ground floor and a 500-seat capacity for function rooms on the second floor.
Lapid said the proposed new international convention center will have a seating capacity of 10,000 and will require 4 to 5 hectares of land property.
Budget details and the facility’s location are yet to be discussed, according to Lapid.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., in a press conference on Thursday, welcomed the proposal, citing that the ICC is often fully booked.
“Definitely, we all need something like that. A venue for spectators, a venue for sports that can also be a convention center. Our ICC is fully booked. We have one but we need another,” he said.
Defensor said the province has a land area that can house the infrastructure but noted that the place is no longer ideal since it is already intended for a different purpose.
TIEZA and the Department of Tourism (DOT) are also set to establish tourism rest areas (TRA) in Iloilo as part of the seamless travel initiatives under the Bagong Pilipinas campaign of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
“One of the rich cities and provinces when it comes to culture is Iloilo […] The TRAs will be a rest area where there will be showcases of local products and will serve as an information center of the DOT,” Lapid explained.
He added that TIEZA and DOT are already coordinating with the local government units on where they can put up TRAs in Iloilo.
Lapid said among the areas where the DOT has commenced the development of TRAs are Ilocos Norte, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, Samal Island, and Bukidnon and the next area on their list is Iloilo, Boracay, Batanes, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Zamboanga Sibugay, Occidental Mindoro, and Baguio.
As the government’s tourism infrastructure arm, TIEZA handles the funding and construction of TRAs, while DOT serves as the primary concept originator and overall project evaluator.