Before you get the impression that I have some awful rodent infestation at home or at the office, let me point out that, in the tourism industry, MICE is not that of the repulsive kind. It is an acronym for its most lucrative component – Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions. In fact, every country in the world is crazy about promoting itself as a MICE destination because it does wonders to the country’s coffers.
Since 2010, MICECON, an international convention promoting the Philippines as a MICE destination, has been hosted by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB). This corporate body is attached to our Department of Tourism, and is tasked to formulate and implement domestic and international marketing programs for our country.
I attended the recent two-day MICECON 2015 designed to strengthen the educational program for MICE and tourism practitioners in the country by upgrading our capabilities in targeting and handling the market. It tackled such relevant issues as trends, sales and marketing, event management, customer service and tourism development.
This year’s event was held at the cavernous Grand Ballroom of the Marriott, the biggest hotel ballroom in the country, and TPB, as expected, put up a really good show. Not only were the speakers the most illustrious in their respective fields of endeavor, the event theme was also very colorful, the entertainment spectacular, and the meals were always royal banquets! All the international guests I came in contact with during the convention had nothing but praises for the event, for the people involved in it, the food, the warmth and hospitality of our countrymen.
The first day’s theme was the Age of Aquarius, so the TPB staff was garbed as Flower People of the ’60s. They looked so colorful and so authentic with their paisley shirts, bell-bottom pants and Afro hairdos, I was almost tempted to ask if they smoked pot, too. On the second day, they looked even more colorful, as superheroes and movie characters, shown in the photos on this page.
But what was more important to me were the topics discussed during the various sessions. They gave me these valuable information that I, as a practitioner in the travel industry, find very useful.
As of 2013, there were already one billion tourists crisscrossing the globe, and this figure is expected to double by 2023, which means more business opportunities for us in the industry. The number of tourists from the Asia Pacific region is the fastest growing, because China (which includes the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei) has become the world’s largest source of tourists. Most of them go to the US and France. In our region, the top three shopping destinations are Bangkok, Singapore and Tokyo, in that order.
Here in our country, the tourism industry is the third highest moneymaker. We registered a total of 54 million domestic tourists last year, and will have welcomed five million foreign tourists by the end of this year. The Industry earned for us P1.46 trillion last year because the average daily expense of foreign tourists increased from $84 to $104, and their average length of stay, from eight nights to 10.6 nights.
The best part of all these increases is the 4.2 million local jobs this industry has generated so far. This number accounts for 12 percent of total employment in the country, definitely good news for students in the Tourism and Hospitality Management Programs.
So why is MICE so important to our country’s tourism leaders and professionals? It showcases new developments, establishments and products in our country which could easily entice the high-yield MICE travelers. Many of these visitors are blessed with unlimited expense accounts, courtesy of the companies or organizations they work for, making them the ideal market for any tourism promotion.
No wonder the officers of the Department of Tourism and its affiliated agencies run crazy all over the place when bidding and preparing for international MICE events. They leave no stone unturned in putting up a hearty welcome and a lavish show for the delegates, like they did for MICECON 2015. Watching this flurry of activities preparing for and during such events makes me want to sing, with apologies to one of my favorite nursery rhymes – “Here comes MICE… see how they run!”
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE:
“Honey,” said the husband to his wife, “I invited a friend home for supper.” “What? Are you crazy? The house is a mess, I haven’t been shopping, all the dishes are dirty, and I don’t feel like cooking a fancy meal!” “I know all that,” said the husband. “Then why did you invite him for supper?” “Because the poor fool’s thinking about getting married.”
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