MICE sector seeks priority in tourism recovery plan
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Stakeholders from the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector are urging the government to prioritize the recovery of the sub-sector over leisure tourism as it would help jumpstart the economy.

“If you keep MICE as a priority, the industry will appreciate it and it will really bring the economy back faster on its feet. This is the strategy that should be taken care of by government. Do not put us at the bottom,” Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers Inc. (PACEOS) president Joel Pascual said in a webinar organized by Exlinkevents.

Pascual said the government should realize that “nurturing MICE is actually a faster way of jumpstarting the economy rather than leisure tourists because not only do you get tourism, you also get economy starters, catalysts for businesses to proceed (into the country)”.

“The business traveler is more purposeful. They are coordinated in their travel. They have compelling reasons to arrive, unlike the leisure who may or may not choose to travel to the Philippines,” he added.

MICE is among the 10 tourism products under the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan(NTDP) and is a major job and revenue contributor to the tourism sector.

In an earlier letter to the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association Philippines, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said the Department of Tourism(DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) have agreed to waive participation fees for all DOT and TPB- hosted international travel shows and trade fairs will be extended until 2021.

“The fees to be waived by the DOT will amount to approximately P6.2 million for 2020 and P6.8 million for 2021. For TPB, the corresponding figures are P11.3 million for 2020 and P11.3 million for 2021,” Bengzon said.

Prior to the quarantine, DOT had announced earlier that it will waive the participation fees from March until June this year.

In addition, Bengzon said the DOT, through the TPB, would extend assistance by waiving the fees for the Philippine Travel Expo 2020 (PHITEX) for the Philippine private sector participants as well as create a program for MICECON 2020 to feature sessions that would tackle recovery solutions after COVID-19.

“The DOT will assist the PACEOS in inviting/hosting foreign buyers once events are up again,” Bengzon added.

Meanwhile, TPB MICE Department acting head Karem Miranda acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 on the MICE industry which has resulted in cancellation and postponement of events.

“We’re adjusting our programs right now and we are in contact with our MICE industry experts, stakeholders to make sure that we’re able to weave your programs with our programs for a concerted recovery effort,” Miranda said.

She added that moving forward, the normalization of the MICE industry would be done in several phases, the first phase of which would focus on the domestic MICE sector, followed by the Asia Pacific MICE market and eventually the international MICE market.

Moreover, Miranda said adjusting to a new normal for the MICE sector would call for the need to integrate virtual technology to face-to-face meetings.

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