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Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (MPD-SBMA)

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18 December 2008

Subic Freeport eyes incentive travel market, hosts 8th confab on incentive marketing

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is clearly on the move to capture a larger share of the growing outbound tourist market worldwide with its aggressive tourism promotion program and the continuous development of tourism facilities in this free port.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said Subic's tourism thrust will be boosted further when the free port hosts the 8th Philippine Incentive Marketing Conference (PIMC) this April.

"This is an event institutionalized in 1994 by the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC), and the Movement of Incentive Travel Executives (MITE) to continually upgrade the standards and quality of services of existing tourism facilities and services in the country," explained Arreza.

"We intend to leverage our hosting of this event to broaden our networking with tour operators, incentive travel organizers, and other stakeholders in the tourism industry, which continues to display strength despite global economic slowdown," he said.

Arreza added that the Subic Bay Freeport also continues to make headway in tourism due to the increasing number of facilities here for leisure, entertainment, adventure and sports tourism, as well as convention and exhibition.

Figures from the SBMA Tourism Department indicate that the number of foreign and local tourists increased considerably over the last two years.

Foreign visitors numbered 41,366 in 2007, but the total as of November this year already reached 52,277. The number of local tourists, meanwhile, grew from 1,009,609 last year to 2,225,540 as of this November.

Arreza said that with the hosting of the coming conference on incentive travel, "Subic hopes to solidify its position in the growing meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition (MICE) market."

SBMA deputy administrator for tourism Raul Marcelo, meanwhile, said that the PIMC could provide a big difference in marketing Philippine tourism attractions to catch up with major players in the business.

He said that while Singapore has recorded 33 million tourists as of October 2008 and Dubai is looking at 200 million before the year ends, the Philippines has only recorded 3.3 million so far this year.

"It is evident that the Philippines has much more to offer compared to these countries, and yet, we are lagging behind. It is hoped that the PIMC would help advance Philippine tourism to beter standing," said Marcelo.

Marcelo pointed out that the PIMC strives to promote the country as an ideal tourism, convention and incentive destination through educational programs aimed at professionalizing the local incentive travel industry. This involves providing comprehensive information, technical assistance, and guidance to meeting planners and incentive travel organizers, who seek an ideal venue for their meetings and incentive groups.

He added that PICM organizers "have chosen the right venue for the next conference, as they could learn much here in Subic."

About 300 participants will be invited to the 8th PMIC, which is an immediate follow-up event to the 7th PMIC held in Batangas on November 27-30.

Marcelo said participants in the recent conference "got a good taste of Subic" when the SBMA hosted a safari-themed farewell lunch to cap the event.

"Food was served in bamboo — the Subic Aeta way— and that has got everyone excited," said Marcelo. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

Photo Caption: Foreign tourists try out indigenous Aeta dance steps during a visit to the Subic Bay Freeport.

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