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

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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.

PHITEX:

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.

ROUTES ASIA:

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

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