Memorable meetings at the PHILIPPINES
Home to Asia’s first convention centre, the stunning island nation has much to offer for MICE, says Navritu Kaushal Rai, Account Director, Philippines Tourism Marketing Office-India
What makes the Philippines a unique MICE destination?
When it comes to meetings, conventions, exhibitions, incentives and special events, the Philippines is a destination that delivers both business and fun. This beautiful archipelago of 7,107 islands is a major business hub in the Asia-Pacific region with an established record of accomplishment of hosting outstanding global events. In addition, beyond a business agenda, visitors experience so much more through the rich culture, spectacular sights and vibrancy of one of Asia’s most unique destinations. When making event site selections, the Philippines offer a wide array of destinations, each rich in attractions. Take your pick from cosmopolitan Manila, historic Cebu, scenic Bohol or the beachside paradises of Boracay and Palawan, plus a host of other excellent business and incentive travel destinations spread out across the islands. A well-established meetings infrastructure provides innumerable options for hosting groups of all sizes, whether its 15 top sales executives for an incentive event in a boutique resort or 15,000 attendees for an annual convention in a coliseum. Manila alone has eight major venues including the world-class Philippines International Convention Centre (PICC) which is Asia’s first convention centre, SMX Convention Centre, World Trade Centre and Megatrade Hall. These are complimented by luxury hotels situated strategically within business districts.
Which large scale conferences/events have been held there?
The development of the Philippines convention industry became official government policy in 1976, a milestone year that marked the establishment of Southeast Asia’s first full-fledged convention centre–the Philippines International Convention Center (PICC) and the creation of the Philippines Convention Bureau (PCB) as a government corporation dedicated to the promotion of Philippines as a meetings and convention destination. That same year, the Philippines successfully played host to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Joint Conference that signaled the entry of the Philippines into the world conventions market. Since then, the Philippines has hosted some of the biggest and most important international and regional meetings, conferences, conventions, congresses and events. The Philippines Convention Bureau (PCB) was later reorganised in 1987 and became the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation, now known as Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), in response to market developments, which embraced the new, more specialised and quality-oriented Incentive Travel Industry. In recent years, the meetings, conventions and incentive travel industry evolved into an even wider representation of several specialised sector of tourism to encompass exhibition and events. Some of the large-scale events hosted by the Philippines recently are:
ASIA–PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION (APEC) 2015:
This high profile event was held in Manila. the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in 2015 had the presence of leaders, senior officials, top executives, and industry experts of and from the group’s 21-member economies.
It is the country’s annual leading marketing event aimed at strengthening the country’s brand image and encouraging the participants to promote affordable and competitive tourism packages. The invited foreign buyers have the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of the multitude of activities during the post tours to key Philippine attractions and destinations.
MADRID FUSION MANILA:
The first and only Asian edition of Madrid Fusion, the most important international gastronomy congress in the world, brings together the most acclaimed avant-garde chefs from across the globe.
The route development forum for Asia, the essential event for all aviation-based companies, brings together a range of airlines, airports and tourism authorities, including some of the largest carriers from the Asian region. This event offers the opportunity to meet with some of the most influential aviation professionals from across the world.
DIVING RESORT TRAVEL (DRT), PHILIPPINES:
A truly professional and largest Diving Resort Travel Expo in Asia, offers the diving professionals, from all over the world, an insight to the diving industry via seminars, conferences and B2B meetings.
What kind of challenges do you face in organising MICE on an island?
The main challenge that we are facing now is the lack of direct flights from India to the Philippines. However, the Philippines is constantly trying to fill these gaps and to clear the hurdles soon.
In 1976 the Philippines played host to the International Monetary Fund –World Bank joint conference that signaled the entry of the Philippines into the world conventions market
What are the advantages of holding meetings on an island?
The Philippines, as an island destination, offers a complete package of massive meeting locations, incentive trips and magnificent tourism spots. Islands serve as an elegant and sophisticated destination, with stunning natural landscapes offering many options of after hour indulgences like river rafting, beach hopping , beach parties and water adventure activities. Therefore, the
Philippines is an ideal destination to host congresses, meetings or incentive trips.
Can the Philippines be an ideal wedding destination for Indians?
The Philippines has the magic to make memories last for a lifetime. The pristine beaches, the beautiful islands and the amazing landscapes in the Philippines make it a perfect backdrop for weddings, especially for beach weddings. Cebu, Boracay and Palawan are amongst the best wedding destinations in the Philippines. The country has excellent beach resorts and affordable hotels which are competent enough to meet the requirements for Indian weddings. There are many locations for making weddings memorable.
What are the special benefits for Indian groups in terms of food, special packages, special preparations made for them?
The Philippines has now become one of the preferred destinations in South-East Asia among Indians. The country also boasts of warm hospitality and availability of all major cuisines for their guests. There are ample options of Indian cuisine restaurants and their availability across all major hotel properties.
What kind of accommodation is available in the country for business travellers?
There is an attractive range of accommodation on offer, whether one seeks luxurious treatment or affordable comfort. From good value international chains to elegant hotels, exclusive boutique properties and luxury resorts, the Philippines has it all.
What are the after-hour activities?
Countless options for pre- and post- meeting activities are here. Natural and cultural attractions include five world heritage listed sites. The Philippines coastline, which is twice that of the United States, boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are championship golf courses, luxury spas, sprawling shopping malls, adventure destinations and the nightlife is one of the liveliest in Asia.
WHEN IN MANILA:
• Visit Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church and Casa
The Philippines has now become one of the preferred destinations in South-East Asia among Indians
Manila in the ancient walled city of Intramuros. Take a day trip to scenic Tagaytay or Pagsanjan Falls, or to historic Corregidor Island or Villa Escudero. Shop till you drop in the mega malls of Makati, Ortigas and Quezon City.
WHEN IN CEBU:
Explore Fort San Pedro, the nucleus of Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Pack a picnic and trek to the Kawasan Falls in Badian. Scuba dive in the coral islands of Mactan, Moalboal, Pescador and Badian or swims with the whale sharks in Oslob.
WHEN IN BORACAY:
Take a sunset cruise in a paraw, Boracay’s signature sailboat and be part of a pub-crawl. Enjoy a hilot, a traditional Filipino massage, under the shade of a coconut tree on the beach. Go on island hopping and take diving, sailing or windsurfing lessons.
WHEN IN PALAWAN:
See the astonishing seascapes of El Nido, one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. Take a dawn kayak ride around the limestone formations at sea, swim with the giant jackfish or get dropped off on a private island for a seafood picnic on the sand.
WHEN IN BOHOL:
Marvel at the unique panorama of over 1,200 ‘Chocolate Hills’, lush green dining the wet season, chocolate brown when it is dry. Enjoy a fascinating boat ride in the serene waters of Loboc River. Visit the Philippines Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary and get up close to the tiny tarsier, the smallest primate in the world. Go for a dolphin watching tour.
What is the USP of the Philippines?
The Philippines is a cornucopia of natural wonders 7,107 beautiful islands. The Philippines offers eight major destinations–Manila, Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, Palwan, Davao, Baguio and Banaue and Vigan and Laoang–to enhance every type of convention, exhibition, incentives and special events. The Philippines boasts of world-class hotels, resorts, massive convention venues complemented by warm hospitality of the locals. With international airports forming a gateway to the world, Philippines’ strategic locations make it easily accessible. Many major international airlines fly regularly to the Philippines from all major airports of the neighbouring continents. The Philippines is exotic and international at the same time. English is widely spoken, with an American, Spanish or Malay accent, and the local culture is a mix of native and global influences. Easily accessible, great value and a wealth of experiences to choose from, you will wonder how you have missed discovering the Philippines.
Navritu Kaushal Rai