SMX Convention in Cebu eyes opening in 2026

MOST REQUESTED. Walid Wafik, senior vice president of SM Hotels and Convention Corp., says Cebu is one of the most requested destinations by Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) organizers, alongside Manila and Davao.
MOST REQUESTED. Walid Wafik, senior vice president of SM Hotels and Convention Corp., says Cebu is one of the most requested destinations by Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) organizers, alongside Manila and Davao. CCCI

Cebu’s own SMX Convention Center at the South Road Properties is slated for opening in the third quarter of 2026, according to Walid Wafik, senior vice president of SM Hotels and Convention Corp.

“This infrastructure is a big development and it will add such great value to Cebu and the whole city,” said Wafik, during the Cebu Tourism Forum on Wednesday, June 3, 2024, held at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport as part of the Cebu Business Months 2024.

He said Cebu is one of the most requested destinations by Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) organizers, alongside Manila and Davao.

According to Wafik, the Cebu project has been planned since 2018, but its construction was slowed down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SMX Convention Center will be the first to open alongside a three-star hotel in 2026 followed by the SM Arena and a four-star hotel.

SMX Cebu will enjoy a gross leasable area of 24,000 square meters, larger than the SMX Manila in the SM Mall of Asia.

“We have forecasted a few years back that Cebu is in desperate need of large convention facilities, especially large facilities. We didn’t want to come into the market with a small convention space because it will not accommodate what the actual demand that we see for Cebu,” said Wafik.

“We looked at the third bridge opening, which is accessibility to the airport. Hotel rooms are present. So, having a convention center is a way to go and the larger the better,” he added.

Wafik said that Cebu will witness later on the same events being staged in Manila.

“Somehow they are going to extend and come to Cebu as well, same as the Arena. You will have basketball games or concerts. There is no need now for Cebuanos to fly over to Manila to attend these events,” he said.

In his presentation, Wafik said Asia Pacific’s Mice market is valued at USD$284 billion by 2030, with an estimated growth of 10 percent annually.

In the case of SMX, 95 percent of its events are locally bred while the remainder come from foreign exhibitors from China and Taiwan, and other Southeast Asian countries. About five percent of these events come from abroad to be staged in the Philippines.

“We have been experiencing a high demand (of Mice activities) in 2024,” said Wafik, crediting the healthy return of events to the return of businesses.

The convention industry started to come back in May 2023. From that period up to the present, the convention business is at a high level.

“So most of our locations are busy accommodating even big events,” said Wafik.

Besides improving economic conditions, events from the local government units are also contributing to the revenue in Mice’s business. Technology advancements and infrastructure improvements are also the growth drivers of Mice’s business. (KOC)

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