PHILIPPINES FEATURES DAVAO IN CHINA TRAVEL EXPO
Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara, published in SunStar Davao
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio led the Davao delegates in attending the China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) 2011 in Beijing, China from 30 August to 1 September 2011. Last year's CIBTM 2010 saw record-breaking attendance, and this year's event topped it.
The Department of Tourism has launched the Chinese Tourism Marketing Program last June in the aim of capturing the market. Nine media entities and one major tour operator were invited to Davao as part of the exposure and validation tour, following the promotional undertakings they set in Beijing earlier on. This year's CIBTM trip is a follow through of said lineup of activities.
During the 3-day event, Davao was the featured destination of the Philippines, following that of Boracay and Palawan which are popular destinations among Chinese tourists. During the Philippine Travel Conference held in The Regent Beijing, Mayor Sara gave a brief presentation outlining the "Let us Meet in Davao" campaign and positioning the country's biggest city internationally as a potential MICE destination. She was also interviewed by a TV network station, assisted by her Mandarin interpreter.
Sales calls, product presentations and table talks were set among private stakeholders of the Davao CIBTM delegation, Chinese MICE suppliers and non-MICE tour operators. Each company was called onstage and given a few minutes to introduce their product/resorts, mostly with interpreters (a few delegates spoke Mandarin fluently).
According to Benjamin Banzon, General Manager of Pearl Farm Beach Resort, deals are in negotiation for a trip to the world class resort by Beijing Telecom this April.
Resort and travel operators in the Davao team were The Ritz Hotel, Marco Polo Davao, DICEC, Twin Rivers Leisure Group Inc., Eden Nature Park, Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Mount Apo Travel and Tours. Also included were the DOT XI team led by Regional Director Art Boncato, and the City Government officials.
The CIBTM is the leading event for meetings, incentives, business travel and events industry in China and Asia, and is the only high-end MICE and travel exhibition supported by the PRC government. This huge 3-day expo provides a dedicated business platform for over 300 exhibitors, including around 80 hotels, to meet and conduct business with international and regional industry buyers who have the authority to place real business.
This year's event was held at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC), near the famous Bird's Nest Stadium of the Olympic Games in 2008. The Philippines has a 35-sq.meter booth with seven tables provided right in the middle of the expo area. Prominent in the tarpaulin backdrops were Davao icons and destinations. The Philippine delegation team numbered close to around 30 participants.
Boracay, Cebu, Manila and Palawan are already known destinations to the Chinese market, according to the Philippine Tourism Office in Beijing. Mayor Sara is hopeful that Davao can become the new foreign destination for the Chinese, who spend some $45-$50 billion on travel alone.
With the growing MICE tourism and active participation of key leaders in the industry, Davao can very well provide the Chinese market the various incentive travel packages and facilities for meetings and events.
Special thanks to Mr. Vic and Rose Lao for the special Peking Duck dinner we cannot forget.
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Jojie Alcantara is a long time columnist of SunStar Davao and was a part of the Davao delegates to CIBTM as the official photographer.