08 February 2010

Durano exhorts M.I.C.E. players: ‘Learn from Subic experience’

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano has cited Subic Bay’s rise from the ashes of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption as an example of how stakeholders in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions/events (M.I.C.E.) industry could tap into the $300-billion global M.I.C.E. market.

“Assess the situation and formulate appropriate strategies,” Durano exhorted participants in the Philippine M.I.C.E. Conference 2010, an international forum that opened on Friday at Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) here.

“There is always an opportunity that comes with change,” added Durano, recounting how Subic Bay transformed itself from a wasteland into a bustling free port, and how it is now making a name as host to local and international events.

More than 300 representatives from various sectors of the Philippine M.I.C.E. industry arrived here as early as Thursday evening for the four-day event that ends on Monday.

Durano said M.I.C.E. players can only respond two ways to the challenges faced by the industry: “to be like an immovable object, which eventually is toppled by the wind, or a kite that soars higher as the wind gets stronger.”

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza, who welcomed the conference delegates, meanwhile, said that Subic has reaped much benefits after the Subic agency decided to invest in the M.I.C.E. industry.

He said this decision gave rise to the 12,000-square meter SBECC, which now boasts of having one of the best convention facilities in the country today.

The SBECC, which was formerly the shell of an abandoned computer parts factory and warehouse, and refurbished by the SBMA at the cost of P350 million, has poured from $10 million to $12 million in income to the local economy since it first opened for the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress in 2007, Arreza said.

“Subic Bay as a major M.I.C.E. destination has always been a dream of mine ever since I stepped in here as administrator four years ago,” said Arreza, a former undersecretary at the Department of Tourism.

He added that aside from drawing participants to conventions, most of whom also visit various tourism facilities in the locality during the conventions, SBECC has “introduced” Subic to potential investors such as Nestle, Coca-Cola and Phillip Morris, companies that soon decided to open facilities in Subic after holding conferences at the local convention venue.

“There is a tremendous potential in M.I.C.E., and I urge everyone to get the most out of it,” Arreza also told conference delegates, who came from as far as as Iloilo, Davao, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, Bacolod, Pampanga, Aklan, and Camarines Sur.

The four-day M.I.C.E. conference, which brought together national industry associations, international affiliates and business networks within the tourism industry, featured a series of presentations by international experts in the tourism industry and media.

The various topics shared a common theme: how local players can tap into the growing M.I.C.E. market. Among the speakers in the conference are Pacific Asia Travel Association chief executive Gregory Duffel, World Tourism Organization consultant and former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, Web in Travel producer and SHY Ventures editor-at-large Yeoh Siew Hoon, International Congress and Convention Association Chief executive Martin Shirk of The Netherlands, Malaysia-based Asian Overland Services group managing director Anthony Wong, UK-based Regent Exhibitions managing director Paul Flackett, and Travel Impact Newswire executive editor Imtiaz Muqbil.

M.I.C.E.Con 2010 is the result of a historic tie-up among the Philippine Asian M.I.C.E. Forum, which is spearheaded by the Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers, and the Philippine Incentive Marketing Conference of the Department of Tourism, the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corp., and the Movement of Incentive Travel Executives. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza welcomes Tourism Secretary Ace Durano to the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, where the four-day Philippine MICE Conference 2010 is held.