By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

ILOILO CITY — Government agencies, the private sector, and local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo province have completed a three-year plan to become a major meetings, incentives, conferences/conventions and exhibitions (MICE).

The campaign, with a P50-million budget, will carry the tagline “Meet you in Iloilo” in a bid to promote the area as “your next MICE Destination.” The campaign is due to be launched on Oct. 10.

Tourism Undersecretary Arturo P. Boncato Jr. said the first two years of the MICE tourism marketing plan include promotions focusing more on domestic conventions, in preparation for bigger international conventions.

“What this program is doing is rationalizing all resources, setting up one major direction for everybody, where part of the direction is improvement along the way, facilities-wise, service wise, marketing and promotions-wise,” Mr. Boncato said Friday during a presentation to Iloilo provincial officials.

Mr. Boncato noted that the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) accommodated 79,198 MICE participants in the first half of the year, more than double the 36,500 full-year total in 2017.

“We hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It’s an achievement. We achieved a certain standard. All of the meetings that transpired in Iloilo met a global standard,” he said.

Aside from the marketing plan, an Iloilo MICE Alliance Core Group composed of representatives from various tourism sectors was formed earlier this year to develop promotions, incentives, and related tourism packages.

Cleofe C. Albiso, general manager of Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo, said available incentives based on the number of MICE participants include a 5% discount on accommodations for the first night and an additional 5% for succeeding nights.

The ICC, meanwhile, will give a 10% discount and no ingress charge to a MICE event occupying the entire Convention Hall.

Ms. Albiso added that MICE participants will be able to avail of discounts and other incentives from participating restaurants, transport service, tour operators, and airlines.

“We have put our personal interests and corporate goals aside to collaborate to make this happen. We have to do this because if we do not work together, we can never move forward. We are not here to represent our brands because we know our businesses will fly once we really make this happen,” she said.

Mr. Boncato said the program details will be ironed out and ready in time for the launch.

“We will have a set of packages to attract more (events)…. The ICC is the golden hen, that’s why it is important that (stakeholders) support the biggest meeting facility in Iloilo. It’s already there, Iloilo is already a MICE (destination),” he said.