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APEC conferences in Iloilo draw 5,000 visitors

Iloilo City is the venue for some Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences. 

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Hosting Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences has enabled this city to attract as much as 5,000 visitors and to prop up the local economy, its mayor said Tuesday.

Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the influx of delegates is helping them meet their employment targets and promote Iloilo as a premiere tourism destination.

“If there are visitors, there would be a lot of retail and shopping and as a result, it will boost the local economy, which is happening now. Because of Iloilo’s hosting, we have an additional 3,000 to 5,000 (visitors),” Mabilog said in a press conference here.

Iloilo City is the venue for some APEC conferences namely the small and medium enterprises ministerial meet, the senior disaster management officials’ forum and the finance and food security meet.

Mabilog said the city aims to lure three million visitors by 2020. Tourist arrivals in the city, however, only hit around 900,000 last year.

“We know that for every six tourists that come to certain locality it brings one job. With three million visitors, that will make our unemployment rate zero. That will be in 2020 but this is good start,” the mayor said, noting that the city has a population of about 500,000.

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Mabilog said the local government spent about P5 million for the APEC preparations. The Iloilo Convention Center, which the city considers as its icon, was also inaugurated last week in time for the hosting of the ministerial meetings.

“Of course we expect ROI (return on investments) as ministers and participants and delegates come in. If they have pleasant experiences, they can share it with their families, friends and colleagues and bring them here,” the mayor said.

“Studies show that if a delegate comes to a certain area or locality and have the best experience, the tendency is they will go back in their private time,” he added.

Mabilog said Iloilo is a viable location for conventions or exhibits because of its strategic location. He said the flying time from Manila or Davao is just an hour while the plane flight from Cebu only takes around 20 to 25 minutes.

Mabilog is optimistic that the interest on Iloilo as a tourist spot will continue even after the APEC.

“(The Iloilo Convention Center is) fully booked until October 6. TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority) reported that it has reservations for 30 conventions until the end of the year. Imagine how many people will come,” Mabilog said.

“It can have a domino effect with other industries as well. Hotels are being built and we see the expansion of business,” he added.

Aside from its track record of hosting important events, Iloilo is also known for its places of worship like the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Miag-ao church and historical treasures like the Calle Real and the Capitol Complex. 

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