The island of Cebu has long been visited by people from all over the world. It was a bustling trading post even before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the island. Today, the island has one of the fastest growing economies in the country, with an average growth rate higher than the other provinces. You may ask why Cebu has it all.
First consider its location, Cebu is a central island in the Philippines and is free from earthquake and typhoon. The province has good infrastructure and is accessible through a number of domestic air and sea linkages. It is also a major exporter of furniture and fashion accessories for the country. With is rolling hills, mountain range, beautiful beaches and surrounding small islands, Cebu is popular with tourists. The island with its sheltered deep water port has a thriving shipping industry.
The province accounts for more than 30% of tourist arrivals to the Philippines annually and was named as one of the eight top tourism destinations in Asia and the Indian Ocean region. Not content with being a busy trading port, centre of international trade and tourism in the Philippines, the Province of Cebu is now vying to become a venue for meetings and conventions. In 2005, the city’s skill in organising conventions was put to test when the island for the first time hosted the 12th ASEAN Summit and the 2nd East Asian Summit.
This resulted in the building of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) at a cost of US $10 million. It is a multi-purpose facility in a three storey structure with a floor area of 28,000 sq. metres situated on 3.8 hectares of land at the Mandaue City reclamation area in Metro Cebu. The site was originally intended for a mega-dome sports complex. The convention center features an international media center, a large plenary hall, an exhibition hall, and several meeting rooms.
In 2002 a convention bureau was set-up to promote the island as a premier conventions and events destination. According to Jay Aldeguer, chairman of Cebu Visitors Convention Bureau, “CVCB is currently focusing its efforts on developing the product that is Cebu and realigning its position in the tourism and travel market. The profile of the visitors in Cebu has evolved substantially in the recent years so there is a need to revisit the niche Cebu wants to own in this over populated tourism industry.
The CICC has definitely boosted the appeal of Cebu as a MICE destination. CICC does not only serve as another venue to hold conventions and conferences, it also plays an active role in nurturing the MICE stakeholders in Cebu. There are already training programmes on event management to better equip local events organisers in preparation to more events coming in to Cebu.”
At the same time, a number of international hotels with in-house meetings facilities are catching up with the MICE race Shangri-la Mactan for example, has just completed the renovation of its property. The Hilton, Marco Polo and the Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort to name a few of the hotels that can provide excellent banquet and function rooms for events. However, with the existence of the CICC, the island will come full circle as a destination for MICE giving the other provinces in the Philippines some competition for business tourism.