The hybrid PATA summit was attended by 300 participants, of whom only 61 were allowed to attend on-site in accordance with the government's minimum health standards and social distancing requirements. | Photo by Department of Tourism

The 2021 Adventure Travel Conference and Mart (ATCM) of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) that concluded Friday reflects the growing confidence in the country’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) sector that has since shifted to a hybrid format to adapt to the challenges and limitations posed by the pandemic.

Held from May 26 to 28, the PATA summit took place at the Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort at Clark Freeport in Pampanga and was attended by about 300 participants, 61 of whom were allowed on site.

DOT Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the PATA Summit. | Photo by Department of Tourism

Some 60 buyers from 21 source markets were present physically and virtually during the summit, including 67 seller organizations from 12 destinations, 35 of which are from the Philippines:

Bluewater Resorts, Quest Plus Conference Center Clark, Mart Evers Travel and Tours, Mithi Resort and Spa, Paradise Garden Boracay Resort Hotel and Convention Center, Movenpick Resort and Spa Boracay, Okada Manila, Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort and Spa, Ticao Altamar Boutique Resort, Park Inn By Radisson Davao, Waterfront Hotels and Casinos, White Breeze Palawan Boutique Hotel, Ace Hotel and Suites, Bohol Beach Club, The Lind Boracay, Fasttrack Access Travel and Tours, Club Paradise Palawan (changed name to Discovery Resorts), CTPH Tour (CTPH Lifestyle and Travel Services);

Asiaventure Tours and Travel, Donsol Eco Tour, Intas Destination Management, Blessed Genesis Travel, Mooncake Educational Travel and Tours, Iddo, Trip Quest Travel and Tours, Evasion Tropicale Travel and Tours, JLT Travel and Tours, 365 Wonders Booking Reservations Service, Golden Sky Travel and Tours, GI Philippines, Ten Knots Development, Bacau Bay Resort Coron, Conrad Manila, Hilton Manila/Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort, and Altabriza Resort Boracay.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with PATA in organizing this travel mart and conference in a hybrid format, as we continue to pursue a safe reopening of the Philippines’ tourism destinations. This event is a testament that the Philippines is a trailblazer in hybrid events and that we can show the world that MICE can be done safely,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during the opening ceremony.

According to the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), it was the third pandemic MICE event is co-organized with the tourism department since piloting the hybrid Philippine Travel Exchange (Phitex) in Bohol in September 2020, which generated more than PHP40 million in confirmed travel bookings.

As of this posting, however, the TPB has yet to release initial figures on the revenue generated from actual bookings during the ATCM’s travel mart segment.

‘Practical option’
For the TPB, hybrid events will likely stay as the “dominant player” in the events space given the current global health crisis.

“Depending on various factors, such as vaccination rollout, IATF (inter-agency task force) guidelines, and the number of infection cases, among others, it will be a challenge to tell when we can return to the usual MICE that we are familiar with. In the meantime, organizing hybrid events, which enable both in-person delegates and virtual attendees to participate, becomes a more practical option,” the TPB said in response to questions from the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The board, however, acknowledged that cost and complexity remain two of the biggest challenges in hybrid events.

“Essentially, delivering a hybrid event means organizing two events. Event organizers have to offer a different experience for onsite and virtual participants. That is why the content and program of the hybrid event is crucial to keep the attention and interest of the participants,” it said.

Its success also depends on the online accessibility and bandwidth support to take the event virtually.

This is why the TPB is extending all the support it can give to MICE players who will choose the Philippines as its venue.

It said MICE organizers are entitled to a set of incentive packages and privileges once they bring their meetings to the country, in physical, virtual, and hybrid formats.

Event Duration (Value of Assistance for Meetings, Conventions, and Exhibitions)

  • Less than 3 hours (PHP25,000)
  • Half-day (PHP50,000)
  • Whole day (PHP100,000)
  • More than one day (PHP100,000 per day up to a maximum of PHP500,000 – TPB to procure supplier / pay the supplier directly)

For 2021, the TPB said the course of the Philippine MICE sector would still be primarily influenced by the guidelines focused on ensuring the health and safety of Filipinos.

Indoor business meetings were officially allowed by the national government last December in areas under general community quarantine, but with heightened restrictions imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus, hotels in the area are temporarily prohibited from accepting MICE bookings. (PNA)

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