A warm island welcome

Boracay recently played hosts for the inaugural MICECONnect hybrid event, as the island is in the midst of reinventing its solely-leisure image to reflect its eagerness to also welcome business events groups.

Event brief
MICECONnect is a spin-off of MICECON (Philippine MICE Conference), a platform for buyers and sellers to generate business events. Both events are organised by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, and are held every alternate year.

Although small in size, MICECOnect 2021 was held for the first time in Boracay. The event was seen as an important B2B event as it helped to position Philippines’ plum island resort as a premier and fun-filled leisure and business events destination.

To pull off the successful event, TPB worked closely with the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas, the Malay local government unit, and the Boracay MICE Alliance.

Event highlights
Boracay MICE Alliance’s director, Jobert Peñaflorida, said emotions ran high as MICECONnect 2021 provided hope and inspiration to the island which was closed during the lockdown and before that, during its rehabilitation.

MICECONnect 2021 also proved that Boracay is ready for business events, and continues to expand its hardware as it awaits for borders to reopen. The island is also confident in its capability to host small- and medium-sized business events, shared Peñaflorida.

The hybrid event brought together 52 online sellers and 48 pre-selected business events planners and organisers, of which 23 were onsite in Boracay.

Apart from a full day of B2B meetings, buyers were brought around the island to inspect hotels, resorts, and related business events facilities. They were also treated to several leisure experiences that can be incorporated into business events itineraries.

Experiences included a visit to the Motag Living Museum and a boodle (traditional Filipino finger-food feast) lunch at Nabaoy River; Boracay’s famed beaches; learning about the Ati Atihan Festival; and a fire-dancing performance. Delegates also tried their hand at making traditional crafts, and exploring the partaking in various culinary traditions.

Buyers also hobnobbed with officers of the newly minted Boracay MICE Alliance, which comprises tourism stakeholders working together to bring business events to the island.

As for proof that Boracay has what it takes to be a business events destination, TPB’s chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones revealed: “Two events were contracted, generating an estimated 27 million pesos (US$533,280) in revenue, and participants are following up on leads for nine MICE events slated for December 2021 and 2022.”

The key takeaway from MICECONnect 2021, Allones and Peñaflorida stated, is that everything is interconnected. For instance, the recovery of the business events industry in Boracay will also spill over to other Philippines destinations.

The most important challenge was dealing with health protocols, and sure measures to keep delegates safe and sound throughout their stay.

MICECONnect delegates were given a special group lane at the Caticlan Airport and at the ferry to fast track travel and related documentation, while adhering to required health and safety requirements including physical distancing.

Onsite participants were provided with antigen tests and health and safety kits.

Event MICECONnect 2021
Organizer Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
Venue Boracay
Date November 13-15, 2021
Attendance 52 online MICE sellers, and 48 registered buyers of which 23 were onsite

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