MICE, which stands for meetings, incentive travel, conferences or conventions, and exhibits or events, is a huge industry benefitting a wide range of sectors.
Hence, it was not surprising to see Davao City position itself as the premier Mice destination outside the Metro Manila area.
Davao City has held both international and local conventions and conferences ranging from the IMT-GT BIMP-Eaga Trade Fair and Business Leaders' Conference in 2014 to hosting the Asean at 50 in 2017 to the Mindanao Business Conference, which the city hosts every other year. One of the biggest international events the city hosted was the Ironman 70.3 in 2018 and 2019.
Over the years, the city developed its capability to cater to Mice as it boost tourism investments allowing for the establishment of hotels and convention centers.
By 2020, the city was ready to host the MICECon 2023, the largest conference on the industry in the Philippines. By this time, the city's Mice capacity has already grown so much allowing it to host bigger events.
However, when the pandemic struck, it was one of those industries that took a major hit due to restrictions on gatherings.
With the vaccine and improved medical response, we were able to slowly return to organizing events and gatherings.
It was a slow start for the Mice industry in the early part of 2022 but towards the end of the year, people have become more relaxed and confident to join gatherings. The industry is slowly getting back on its feet.
But 2023 will be different for the Mice industry. As we are able to move around more, this is definitely the year when Mice will make a big comeback.
In January alone, there have been already several Mice activities ranging from simple weddings to conferences.
And by March, the city will not only celebrate the Araw ng Davao but will also play host to two major events -- the MiceCon 2023 and Ironman 70.3.
Jennifer Romero, Davao City Tourism Operations Office (DCTOO) head, said Mice activities in the city this year may help surpass the city's tourist arrivals target.
She said from January to December 2022, the city received 897,406 tourists, which was already considered "very good."
Targeting around 1.8 million tourists in 2023, Romero said Mice activities will allow the city to achieve this.
“The strength of Davao City is through Mice events, naa’y local meetings, daghan ta’g naka-schedule na conventions (we will have local meetings, we will have many scheduled conventions) even in the first quarter and second quarter [of this year], and hopefully padayon ni siya (this will continue) for the entire year,” Romero said.
The return of Mice activities is a bright spot coming off from the Covid-19 pandemic. More Mice activities mean people are confidently traveling and businesses are slowly flourishing again.