Tourism chief seeks bigger MICE market share for PH

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva July 17,2016 - 10:58 PM
Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo (seventh from left) graces the opening of last Friday’s 3rd International Travel Fair at the Ayala Center Cebu. Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale (right) also attended the event. (DOT FACEBOOK PAGE)

Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo (seventh from left) graces the opening of last Friday’s 3rd International Travel Fair at the Ayala Center Cebu. Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale (right) also attended the event. (DOT FACEBOOK PAGE)

DOT Secretary Teo outlines department’s short-term, long-term thrusts

The tourism department is looking forward for the Philippines especially Cebu and the Visayas to have a bigger slice of the international events in the meetings, incentives, conferences exhibitions (MICE) market.

The newly appointed Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said the Department of Tourism would be taking a second look at MICE opportunities to ensure that the country gets a bigger share of the market.

“This is particularly timely because Asean will celebrate its 50th year in 2017, and the Philippines will be at the center. I want Cebu and the Visayas to take advantage of that event,” said Teo during last Friday’s opening ceremony of the 3rd International Travel Festival (ITF) at the Ayala Center Cebu.

Given Cebu’s experience in hosting meetings during the APEC summit in 2015, she said the province would be ready to host Asean events next year.

Aside from that, Teo said she would study how best to convert the huge potential into concrete markets in the country for agri-tourism, medical tourism, and retirement services.

She said she also plans to revive key cities in the country, including Manila and Cebu, to become tourism destinations instead of just being tourist jump-off points.

Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who was also present in last week’s event, said the provincial government would continue to support the efforts of both public and private tourism stakeholders.

Airports, highways

She said that reelected Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III will definitely push for the construction of airports on Bantayan and Camotes Islands as well as the Trans-Axial Highway, which is with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for approval and funding.

“These big projects are all intended to cut travel time for the convenience of travelers,” said Magpale.

If these projects would be realized, she said, Cebu would be expected to attract more tourists as accessibility and convenience of transportation would improve.

Teo also said that she would work closely with the private sector in the creation of plans for the tourism industry spanning the next six years.

Long-term plans
Teo also said that the DOT would define its long-term direction “soonest,” and it would continue building on gains already posted.
“Whatever direction we will pursue, we will listen to what our stakeholders have to say,” she said during the 3rd ITF, which featured more than 100 exhibitors.
Teo said she intended to go around the country to listen to stakeholders so a collective plan could be achieved.
She said her trip to Cebu was her first out-of-town visit from Manila since she became secretary of tourism.

Credentials
Teo had been actively working in the tourism sector for more than two decades, having been co-owner of travel agency Mt. Apo Travel and Tours and president of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas), before her appointment.

“I came from the private sector, and I understand how challenging it can be if we are not provided an enabling environment to enhance our competitiveness in the market,” she said.

Teo called on the private sector to actively participate in the efforts of the DOT, citing specifically hotels and resorts to help in data collection for better basis of statistics.

In 2015, the travel and tourism industry posted a 10.6-percent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to DOT statistics, foreign arrivals have grown from 4.8 million in 2014 to 5.3 million in 2015. From January to May this year, the DOT has monitored 2.5 million foreign tourist arrivals.

The DOT also hopes to book $6.5 billion revenues from tourist arrivals in 2016, not far from the $6 billion the country earned the year before.

While long-term goals for the DOT had yet to be created, Teo said that she had already given orders to regional directors on what to do in the next six months.

HRRAC president

Cenelyn Manguilimotan, past president of the Hotels, Resorts and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), said she welcomed the secretary’s promise to work with the private sector.

She said Cebu industry players have always been supportive of all tourism initiatives regardless of who are in the administration.

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