Philippine MICE Quo Vadis?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Already in a span of two days I have read news about our government’s plan in cornering a chunk of tourism market.

According to AFP, “ the government aims to double tourism revenues in six years while avoiding the mass-market route taken by some of its Southeast Asian neighbours, the country’s tourism secretary told”.

In the article, the government focus on strengthening infrastructure with emphasis on cultural , medical tourism and the beaches.

While I agree in all points enumerated in the news the came out in Business World dated July 12 (just one day after an article came out in Philippine Star on Boracay’s overdensity), I scratched my head that there is no mention of MICE as one of the key drivers in veering away from mass-market and attracting high value tourist visitors.

There are already an excess of study that MICE as an important part of tourism attracts businessmen and potential investors which spend 4 times compared to backpackers and almost always entertain the possibility of setting-up shops in the country that leads to job generation.

The growth of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hongkong will never be possible without MICE playing an important role. In fact, mega events like F1, ASEAN conventions and meetings are what attract high value visitors.

It is not only that MICE provides higher income they brought along with them new knowledge and technology that our country can enjoy as we push harder in realizing our dreams to be a developed nation.

Yes, promoting our beaches and taking care of it is important. Yes, creating museums and displaying artefacts and giving solid support to cultural activities will make Philippines more attractive to tourist. If we add infrastructure that provides access to our country then will surely multiply the tourism receipts that we are getting.

However, if we do not give a special attention to MICE and neglect it for the coming six years the number of meetings and visitors generated last 2008 and 2009 which are already spiralling down will only get smaller.

The English proficiency which we are so proud of will not be fully maximized because it is in MICE that this competitive advantage we can immediately harness and put into good use.

I understand that there are so many concerns in our tourism industry but in my humble opinion we must never forget MICE – it is a tourism activity that churns lasting impact.

China has set-up many convention halls that dwarf our biggest convention hall here. If this is not an indication that we must use MICE as a weapon I don’t know what else is this sector needs to do to be appreciated by our government.

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