Hon. Alberto A. Lim
Secretary, Philippine Department of Tourism
MICECON 2011 Opening Address
9:00 AM, 11 August 2011 (Thursday)
Good morning and welcome to all the participants and guests of the second Philippine M.I.C.E. Conference. I would like to thank Governor Gwendolyn Garcia of the Province of Cebu and the Cebu organizing committee headed by Mr. Hans Hauri for extending more than the usual support, and for working hand-in-hand with the D.O.T. and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to ensure that this conference will reap what it aims to achieve.
I would also like to congratulate our host destination, the Province of Cebu, for consistently being named as one of the top island destinations in Asia by various international publications, such as Travel + Leisure Magazine and Condé Nast.
Far from being just a leisure destination, Cebu is one of the best-positioned M.I.C.E. (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions/Events) destinations in our country, not only because of its capability to cater to the business traveler’s needs, with its improved facilities and the presence of an international airport, big hotels and convention halls of international standards, but more so because of its enthusiasm and determination to be one of the best meeting, incentive, convention/exhibition and event destinations in Asia.
It is that same Cebuano spirit and attitude towards M.I.C.E. which we hope will spread all over the country. While some other sectors are still questioning the wisdom of investing in the M.I.C.E. industry, and wondering why Cebu is so bullish about it, we know exactly why. That is because Cebu “gets it”.
Cebu understands that M.I.C.E. is a niche market that brings in large numbers of people that help stimulate economic activities, generating not only immediate economic revenue, but also international goodwill and positive publicity for the host destination.
M.I.C.E. is a lucrative market segment in the Philippines primarily because of our competitive advantage in terms of convenient location, a friendly English-speaking people, low cost labor, and world-class natural attractions. Once the prime mover in convention organization in Asia our country hosted some of the biggest and most prestigious international conferences, like the IMF-World Bank conference, the APEC summit, World Tourism Conference as well as popular international events, such as the Miss Universe beauty pageant and the Manila International Film Festival.
However, tourism has undergone dramatic changes over the years. The marketing world has become more intense as globalization brought in new technology and innovations at a very rapid pace.
Today, M.I.C.E. tourism commands a global market of around 50 million visitors, and Asia has become the most sought after location for M.I.C.E. business, especially from Europe and North America. Hong Kong is recognized as one of the more established M.I.C.E players in Asia. Macau is a strong M.I.C.E. competitor, while Singapore, with its huge tourism revenues coming from M.I.C.E., has a firm hold of this niche in the global marketplace.
But according to industry analysts recently, M.I.C.E. buyers are no longer looking at well-established cities, but at new and upcoming M.I.C.E. destinations in Asia. Rising countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which are currently being marketed aggressively, are scrambling for a slice of this market.
It is for this reason that the D.O.T. is pushing to reposition the Philippines as a preferred M.I.C.E. destination once again. We must join the race and share in the rewards of this ever growing M.I.C.E. market. And with the private sector currently supporting a M.I.C.E. infrastructure boom in the country, the Philippines is again poised to elevate its position as a destination for large-scale events.
We are expecting at least 10,000 new hotel rooms to open in Metro Manila, Cebu, Boracay, and other destinations in the country by 2014, including those of international brands such as Radisson, Tune of Red Planet, Marco Polo, Shangri-la, and Marriot. Investing also in hotels and other tourism-related projects include are local companies such as Robinsons land corporation, which is expanding their Gohotels.ph chain, and Sta. Lucia Land, which is constructing more malls and other tourism-related facilities. Aside from SMX and the 15,000-seater SM Bay City Arena, the SM group is building more convention and event venues in Baguio, Cebu, Bacolod and Davao.
Complementing the increases in hotel/resort rooms, the Philippine aviation industry is also seeing renewed growth, with airline companies such as Air Asia, Tiger Airlines, and Jet Star expanding operations in the Philippines. This means more seats and increased connectivity to major cities in the Asia-Pacific Region. The DOT is working with the Department of Transportation and Communications on identifying airports throughout the country to be upgraded.
Given the new products, increased number of rooms, upgraded convention facilities, and other related tourism infrastructure throughout the country, there is no better time for international organizers and planners of meetings, conferences, incentive travel and special events to put back the Philippines into their portfolio of M.I.C.E. destinations. This growing private sector investment in tourism facilities and infrastructure development is in harmony with the dot’s marketing efforts, and can, in fact, sustain a new M.I.C.E. industry resurgence.
But to make our presence more extensively felt in the international M.I.C.E. community and restore the country’s foothold in the global M.I.C.E. market, there is a need for greater investment support, not only in M.I.C.E. facilities, but also in expertise to develop interesting conventions and incentive travel packages, as well as promotional campaigns unique to the philippine setting. It is imperative that anyone responsible for building businesses, strengthening brands and creating high impact marketing programs be exposed to training and education opportunities that will keep pace with global market developments.
This is where the Philippine M.I.C.E. Conference comes in. MICECON gives us the chance to listen to global experts who can impart valuable information that can help us develop that level of market sensitivity that could make us at least one-step ahead of the competition.
With the theme “Ishare. Youconnect. Wechange.” Micecon 2011 emphasizes the need to adapt to an evolving global M.I.C.E. market and its complexities. Through MICECON, the M.I.C.E. industry can keep abreast of industry developments and the latest in products, as well as take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen existing industry relationships, extend networks and build new partnerships.
With the addition of the M.I.C.E. mart this year, MICECON also provides us with the perfect opportunity to present, launch or create awareness about new products through one-on-one sessions with the most influential buyers around the world.
While the D.O.T. and TPB have committed to put all its efforts and a good amount of resources to effectively market our country as an exciting and multi-faceted M.I.C.E. destination, developing strategic programs and incentive schemes for M.I.C.E. organizers that will attract the M.I.C.E. market to the philippines – we need the private sector, local government units (LGUs) and other industry stakeholders to complement these efforts by helping develop good and competitive M.I.C.E. packages.
The government and the private sector must attain cohesiveness in the pursuit of that goal, and MICECON is the best place to bring us all together in having that singularity of purpose in our actions. With the collective effort of both government and private sectors, we could be on the right track towards strengthening the M.I.C.E. industry in our country and re-establishing our rightful place as a hub of meetings and conventions in the Asia-Pacific.
Your participation in MICECON 2011 signals your partnership with the D.O.T. in its continuing efforts to optimize our great M.I.C.E. tourism potential, and ultimately, help trickle-down the benefits of tourism to our local communities all over the country. Let us declare to the world that the Philippines is ready to re-claim its lost glory.
To all participants and guests, i hope you have a productive, meaningful and memorable m.i.c.e. conference, and an enjoyable stay in Cebu.
Thank you and mabuhay!