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Iloilo City works on tourism shift from festivals to MICE

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Iloilo City is now implementing a shift in its tourism promotion efforts from being a destination for festivals to one for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE).

The city government is using as a guide the P50-million, three-year marketing plan launched by the Department of Tourism in Region 6 last February.

“Statistics show that before we are festival-driven but now we are MICE-driven because most of the tourists that come here are attendees of the regional conventions in the city,” said City Tourism and Development Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia (https://thedailyguardian.net/local-news/iloilo-city-eyes-shift-from-festival-to-mice-tourism/).

“The product portfolio of Iloilo City now does not only include arts and culture, culinary, and faith, but also the MICE. We are thankful with tourism stakeholders here especially the accommodating sector for their cooperation,” she added.

Divinagracia noted conventions held in Iloilo have been attracting more tourists and have eventually overtaken festival tourism since last year.

Of the 1.2 million tourist arrivals in Iloilo City last year, 50 to 70 percent are attendees of various conventions, she said.

She added the temporary six-month closure of Boracay Island in 2018 also boosted the MICE tourism in Iloilo City as some conventions in Boracay were diverted there.

Divinagracia said they will launch MICE packages by October 2019, since they will be expecting two to four large conventions every month in Iloilo.

She added a MICE alliance composed of tourism stakeholders has been created to prepare for the influx of conventions in the metro.

For its part, property giant Megaworld Corp. is now gearing up to become the center of conventions.

Jennifer Fong, vice president for sales and marketing of Megaworld’s Iloilo Business Park (IBP), said the IBP plans around 1,000 hotel rooms, up from 475 rooms, in the next five years, to accommodate travelers and guests.

The IBP also houses the Iloilo Convention Center which can accommodate to 3,700 persons. Fong said the park is 60 percent complete.

Meanwhile, Divinagracia said other budget hotels and destinations are also stepping up their efforts to prepare for the MICE tourism.

“We want to balance it. We have been talking to other hubs and destinations and they are also stepping up their efforts. We are helping them so that they will not be left behind,” she said.