Iloilo City is MICE tourism hotspot

SENATOR Franklin Drilon, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and key business personalities lead the launching of the P50-million MICE campaign on Oct 10, 2019, at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO CITY will lead the new era for Meetings, Incentive Travels, Conferences/Conventions, Exhibitions/Events (MICE) tourism in the region following the launching of its P50-million MICE campaign on October 10, 2019, at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who graced the launching of the MICE campaign said Iloilo has proven itself an ideal site or city for MICE growth in the past years.

“Iloilo is primed to be the next convention center or MICE destination in the region. Iloilo has proven itself an ideal site or city for MICE growth, given the city’s seamless infrastructure, ranging from its gateways both airports and seaports to wide highways and modern business parks,” she said during her speech.

The tourism secretary noted that from 2018 to 2019, at least 66,000 delegates attended events in Iloilo  on top of successful hosting of international, national, and regional conventions.

“Iloilo has already successfully hosted both Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) within the last four years as well as other local and regional medium to large-scale conventions. The staging of this event would show that Iloilo City embraces global tourism standards,” she added.

Puyat said the national tourism plan has also identified Iloilo City as a priority tourism development area.

“As one of the international gateways of the country, Iloilo is highly accessible with an international airport that is currently serviced by carriers to Hongkong and Singapore as well as connected to other major cities in Luzon and Mindanao,” she said.

She mentioned the Iloilo Convention Center (ICON) in Mandurriao district which is the biggest MICE facility in Iloilo.

“I am impressed actually. I really thought it was just simple but it exceeded my expectations. From the architecture to its glass design, it’s really word-class,” she said.

According to Puyat, MICE tourism has been a strong product in the DOT portfolio of the country.

“Our country is typically marketed with destination with amazing beaches, mountains, and nature-based activities but we have so much more to offer. Ever since we built South East Asia’s full pledged convention center in 1976, Philippines has played host too many important international conventions, congresses, and conferences,” she said.

On Thursday, the tourism department headed by Sec. Puyat together with Senator Franklin M. Drilon, local government officials and Iloilo MICE Alliance officially launched the MICE campaign of Iloilo City with the tagline “Meet you in Iloilo”.

Apart from the tagline, the official logo of the city’s MICE Campaign was also launched.

Cleofe Albiso, general manager of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo and chair of the Iloilo MICE Alliance Core Group composed of representatives from various tourism sectors which was formed earlier this year, said the logo was inspired by the headdress of the Dinagyang dancer carrying the colors of green, blue, yellow, and red.

“It was inspired by the Dinagyang dancer headdress. The choice of colors was specifically picked to represent the things we are proud of such as the greeneries, the Iloilo River, our festivities, and our signature mangoes,” Albiso said.

A MICE magazine was also launched featuring promotions, incentives, and related tourism packages of the tourism sectors including the directories, the list of DOT-accredited hotels, and a map for the top destinations in Iloilo.

“One thing we can assure you, when you put your meetings and incentives here in Iloilo City, we will come in and prepare and collaborate with you to provide you with seamless service,” Albiso emphasized.

Puyat said she will oversee the campaign through supporting the dynamic private sector of Iloilo City.

“The DOT will see this campaign and program through supporting the leadership of the Iloilo MICE Alliance. Aside from the support of the whole DOT system, we have also initially enlisted the support of corporate entities such as Megaworld Corp. Ayala-land, SM Hotel and Conventions to augment our platforms for advertising and promotions,” she said.

Recognizing the efforts particularly of the Ilonggo Senator Drilon, Puyat said she looks forward to more initiatives to boost Iloilo’s growing economy and increase its cultural capital.

“Sen. Drilon’s Iloilo heritage and urban renewal project has restored many heritage sites and locations all over the city. We look forward to experiencing more museums, and restored structures in Iloilo City. The DOT is one with you, senator, mayor, congresswoman, in your quest to protect, restore, and preserve, the heritage sites,” she said.

“If the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) invests sa heritage and culture tourism, talagang mas gaganda ang Iloilo.”

For his part, Drilon said the MICE campaign is apt to put Iloilo on the map by giving it a chance to become a tourism and convention center outside of Manila.

“We have been doing preparations for years and now this is a celebration of the efforts of both the public and the private sectors to really put Iloilo where it deserves to be. You spread out the tourism not only in Manila but also outside of the provinces because we need to generate employment,” he noted.