Reynaldo ‘Pocholo” Franco (second from left), president of Eastern Visayas Tourism Association (Evta) and Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Karen Tiopes (second from right) present the certificate of appreciation to DOT Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. (center) during the first anniversary celebration of Evta on September 28, 2019 at the Oriental Leyte in Palo.
(Photo courtesy of Rhoel Ladera)

TACLOBAN CITY- The Eastern Visayas Tourism Association (Evta) launched its “Mice and More Forum” to promote the region as the next destination for prime Meetings, incentives, conference exhibition (Mice) on Saturday (Sept.28).
Reynaldo ‘Pocholo” Franco, Evta president, said the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the region initially identified Tacloban, Ormoc, and Calbayog, as Mice cities.
“These cities should really focus their tourism investments as Mice destinations,” Franco said.
To coincide with their first anniversary celebration at the Oriental Leyte in Palo town, Evta officials and members mapped out their competitive, incentivized and curated Mice packages according to Mice value chain.
“We see opportunity from Mice, even when it is regarded as medium size. We believe all of us will earn from it, not just one sector,” said Karen Tiopes, DOT regional director.
“Eastern Visayas is the heart of the Philippines. It is accessible by air, sea, and land. We recall the Haiyan (super typhoon Yolanda) rebirth. We had to pause. After the pause, we had several even huge Mice events. Among the most memorable was the hosting of Pope Francis,” she said.
Tiopes maintained that the region has been hosting Visayas-wide conferences, international conference, sports events, and festivals, among others.
“We’re learning Mice. When we talk about Mice, it’s always about venues and accommodations,” said Tiopes as she presented the inventory of accredited venues and accommodations in the region.
Tiopes said her office is strictly imposing primary enterprises to include Mice facilities.
“This shows our capacity in Mice,” she said.
Meanwhile, Franco said they are expecting to increase the current 70 members in their group as tourism stakeholders now that they know the benefits from being an Evta member.
“Mice is a very fast-growing segment of tourism. Its projected value by 2025 is $1.5 trillion globally. The trend of Mice globally is moving to Asia and the Pacific. It’s one of the most inclusive industry. The ripple effect of Mice is wide,” said Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr.
“Why invest in Mice? It has high potential, high value, and great opportunities,” added Boncato as he shared the success story of Mice in Iloilo City in his speech on Mice and More, Sustainable, and Inclusive.
The official said that Mice growth in the Philippines is relevant, adding that almost 60,000 participants were recorded for the first half of the year.
Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) president Jose Clemente III added that what the region needs to do is invest on infrastructure, marketing, education and training, creativity, be on the lookout for opportunities, and constant dialogue with the DOT and its Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
“We’re trying to create more responsive programs in partnership with the private sector. In TPB, we are committed to bid, bid, bid for events to be held in the Philippines,” said Ma. Carla Remedios Miranda, acting head of TPB’ Mice department.
In her speech, Miranda inspired the Evta and the officials in the region to create “inspiring incentives program and unforgettable experiences” to travel to the Philippines.