Philippines’ MICE sector revs up for recovery

Cebu City is ready for business events; The Magellan's Cross Pavilion at Plaza Sugbo pictured

Business events are steadily returning to the Philippines, buoyed by the huge and hungry domestic market, with a smattering of foreign groups.

Tourism Promotions Board’s (TPB) deputy chief operating officer Charles Aames Bautista told TTGmice on the sidelines of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) event that there the country was now welcoming more domestic exhibitions, bleisure trips, as well as incentive trips from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, like the recent group of 500 pax from AXA Philippines.

Cebu City is ready for business events; The Magellan’s Cross Pavilion at Plaza Sugbo pictured

According to Bautista, TPB will support over 200 business events by year-end, of which around 80 are international events. To that tune, after two-year hiatus, Philtoa’s Philippine Travel Mart will also resume this year.

He shared that TPB has also cast a keen eye on Business Process Outsourcing companies, another sector that is big on incentive trips, and is also working to incentivise the film industry to shoot in the Philippines as a film’s cast or crew alone can number up to 200 pax, similar to the size of a business events group.

Fe Abling-Yu, Arfel Travel and Tours president, is also seeing signs of recovery, with business events now comprising 80 per cent of her total travel agency business, and nearing 2019 levels.

She observed that a number of companies have shelved overseas business events in favour of domestic destinations like Clark, Boracay, Cebu and Bohol to help support the country’s economy. Lesser-known destinations like Morong in Bataan province also offers good conference facilities, having recently hosted a government-related conference.

Bruce Winton, Marriott International’s multi-property vice president in the Philippines, added: “An interesting trend to watch for now is how changing workplace dynamics will translate into periodic gatherings.

“As many businesses shift more permanently to hybrid or work-from-home roles, periodic, quarterly or annual get-togethers may just become more important.”

For Marriott properties in the country, Winton shared that corporate meetings have started to recover, and that year-end activity is “on track to match 2019 volumes”. He forecasted that next year’s recovery will be even more “significant”.

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