31 January 2014

Subic tourism prospects for 2014 ‘very positive’

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is expecting another “record-breaking year” in tourism this year, as it intends to ride on last year’s accomplishments and whip up greater momentum with bigger events and more attractions this year.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Roberto Garcia said in a recent report to tourism stakeholders here that Subic faces a “very positive” period this year because of increasing tourist arrivals brought about by the hosting of more sports events, as well as meetings and conventions, in the free port.

“We have been gaining much ground in tourism in the past three years, and in 2014 we intend to do better as we host several major events here in Subic,” Garcia said.

“We have the product—the Subic Bay Freeport, and we just need to get it out there so that we can maintain, if not surpass, the big numbers we attained in 2013,” he added.

According to figures released by the SBMA last week, there was a 20-percent increase in sports-oriented events staged in the Subic Bay Freeport in 2013.

These major events included the Subic Bay to Boracay Race on February 16, the Commodore’s Cup Regatta from April 2 to 6, the Asian Triathlon Championship and the TRAP National Triathlon Championship from April 26 to 29, the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon on June 23, the Safeguard 5i50 Triathlon on October 6 and the Subic Duathlon Open Championships on December 1.

Garcia said the unprecedented 134-percent increase in the number of participants joining sports events here has made Subic Bay “arguably the sports tourism capital of the Philippines.”

He added that Subic also hosted several meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) events in 2013, leading to a 52-percent increase in participants as of September, compared to the level of participation as of September 2012.

“Visitor, tourist and hotel guest arrivals have all increased respectively by 8.3 percent, 0.86 percent and 0.89 percent as of October 2013, as compared to levels as of October 2012,” Garcia also said in his report.

Garcia also said aside from aggressively promoting Subic Bay as a must-see tourist destination, the SBMA had undertaken regular projects to protect and enhance the natural environment of the free port, which is Subic’s core tourism product.

Among the measures SBMA had taken for the environment in 2013 was the full implementation of a “no plastics” policy in January, regular beach and river clean-up projects in coordination with neighbor-communities, and the holding of a water summit to ensure adequate clean water supply in the area.

To provide more momentum to SBMA’s tourism initiative for 2014, the agency had booked major events like the 1st Asia-Pacific Drive Tourism Conference, Auto and Travel Show, which opened here on Tuesday.

Subic will also be the venue of the Ad Summit Pilipinas 2014 scheduled from May 7 to 11, and is eyeing to host the International Table Tennis World Championships this year, Garcia said.

The “Drive Tourism” event, which will last until Sunday, February 2, is a joint project of the Department of Tourism and the Automobile Association Philippines.

The Ad Summit Pilipinas, which is touted to rock the core of the country’s advertising industry, is organized by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines. (Henry Empeno, Business Mirror)