DOT seeks to reinvent MICE sector

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) said the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector may also be an opportunity for the industry to reinvent itself and adapt to the new normal.

“MICE is one of the tourism industry’s key components currently paralyzed by the global pandemic crisis,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a webinar organized by the DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) on the global MICE situationer in the time of the pandemic.

Puyat said the enhanced community quarantine in the different parts of the country and lockdowns in different parts of the world have presented the industry with a problem and an opportunity.

“A problem on how we promote tourism when we are asked to stay at home, and how we can implement our programs when majority of the world is put on pause. However, we also look at it as an opportunity for us to rethink our initiatives and to reinvent ourselves to be able to adapt to the new normal,” Puyat said.

“The perspectives and insights shared by the resource speakers certainly translate to valuable inputs to our own recovery plans as we close ranks with the world’s tourism stakeholders in a collective effort to bounce back from massive losses,” she added.

The webinar featured international organizers from the four segments of the MICE sector namely Gary Grimmer, executive chairman of the Gaining Edge global convention consulting firm; Noor Ahmad Hamid, regional director for Asia Pacific, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA); Jenn Glynn, president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence; and Mark Cochrane, Regional manager of the Global Association of Exhibition Industry.

Grimmer, who served as the moderator of the hour-and-a-half long webinar, lauded the DOT leadership’s positive response to the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines

He added that there may be a gradual return of industry activities in the local, regional and then international level under the new normal, which the rest of the speakers agreed to.

Grimmer also emphasized that the country has the potential advantage of offering an alternative MICE destination as it is known for its people’s hospitality, food and competitive pricing.

Meanwhile, Hamid stressed that optimism is compulsory, not an option. He added that workers have to return to work and cannot be on lockdown forever, citing that markets in Asia may be slowly and cautiously coming back including major cities in China, New Zealand, and Australia.

This sentiment was echoed by Glynn who cited seeing restrictions eased in some countries, and a semblance of normalcy or the new normal.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel…This, too, shall pass and the event industry will forever be changed,” she said.

All speakers cited the Philippines as a competitive MICE destination, with Glynn highlighting the Philippines for its cultural authenticity that adds spice to a memorable visit.

Hamid, for his part, expressed his hopes to go back to Manila to organize an ICCA event.

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.



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