THE PHILIPPINES’ Department of Tourism (DoT) will step up MICE-specific marketing promotions in India, which will include hosting its first-ever roadshow in the market in August.
Speaking to TTGmice e-Weekly, Glen Agustin, DoT’s chief tourism operations officer and head, Team India, said: “Surveys and studies have shown that our efforts should be on MICE, especially on incentive groups from India (such as those from) business process outsourcing and call center, pharmaceutical and technology sectors.”
“These companies have already been to other Asian countries but not to the Philippines. Now is the time for us to position ourselves as an incentive travel destination,” he said.
Agustin will lead the Philippine delegation of travel agents and hotels to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and possibly Kalkota – cities that generate the highest outbound volume.
While Agustin admits that efforts to lure Indian MICE groups will be hampered by the lack of direct flight between India and the Philippines, he said “not much can be done” in that aspect.
Having said that, Agustin pointed out that the Philippines had eased visa regulations for Indian travellers since May, allowing holders of valid visas from the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, the UK, the Schengen Area countries and Singapore to enter the country visa-free for 14 days.
Casey Faylona, director of sales of Dusit Thani Manila, identified two more hurdles Filipino MICE sellers must cross in order to win over Indian MICE groups – food and budget requirements.
Faylona said few hotels in the Philippines serve Indian food. “You cannot just serve Indians a western buffet because they prefer their own food, which can be halal, vegetarian or strict vegetarian, depending on their orientation.”
He noted too that budget-conscious Indians preferred lower star hotels, a need that is now being addressed by the new supply of no-frills hotels and serviced apartments in the Philippines.