Subic Freeport now ‘Convention Capital of Central Luzon’

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—This former military base now takes center stage in Central Luzon’s bid to attract more foreign tourists as the Department of Tourism (DOT) declared it the “Premier Convention Capital of Central Luzon.”
DOT Regional Director Ronaldo P. Tiotuico said the Subic Bay Freeport became the DOT’s “unequivocal choice” for the region’s convention capital because of the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC), which has hosted several big-ticket events like international conferences.
“After a careful and in-depth evaluation of all convention facilities in the region, I am pleased to announce our unequivocal choice of Subic Bay Freeport as the Premier Convention Capital of Central Luzon,” Tiotuico said in his October 31 letter to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia.
“We are looking at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center as the most logical venue [for conventions, exhibitions, meetings and incentive travels] in consideration of its significantly spacious convention halls and meeting rooms, and a wide array of generally acceptable standard facilities and amenities,” he said.
Tiotuico said under the leadership of Sec. Ramon Jimenez Jr., the DOT aims to attract an additional one million foreign tourists by the end of 2013 for the agency to reach its target of at least 5.5 million arrivals.
“It is for this reason that we in the regional office envision to contribute in no small measure towards the achievement of this target by drawing warm bodies into our port of entry through the holding of conventions, conferences and incentive travels and tourism,” he said.
As the DOT’s choice of regional convention capital, Tiotuico said Subic will get all the agency’s promotional support and back-up activities to enable it to become the premier destination for conventions and conferences.
These will include the production and distribution of a regional convention planners guide, technical assistance in tendering bids, as well as support to planning and management of conventions.
“We are determined to focus much of our effort in attracting a special market that can draw big numbers,” Tiotuico said.
For his part, SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said the DOT citation “would open up a brand-new opportunity for the Subic Bay Freeport.”
He said that since building its own convention center in 2007, the SBMA has been strengthening its bid to become a premier destination for the meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market, and has been vigorously pursuing the tourism market to capitalize on the numerous natural attractions in the free port.
“This is truly very timely, as the MICE market continues to expand and tourism arrivals in the country continue to post positive growth rates,” Garcia said.
The Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, with its total floor area of 12,000 square meters, is touted to be the biggest convention center in the country. It was converted in 2007 from a former computer factory at the Subic Bay Gateway Park, which is located within minutes of Subic’s central business district.
Garcia said that aside from the convention center, the Subic Bay Freeport also boasts of good hotels and housing units, duty-free shops, casinos, restaurants, theme parks, and two malls within its central business district. It also has a marina and yacht club, theme parks, beach resorts, facilities for water sports, cycling and car racing, a golf course, and facilities for hiking, camping and horse-riding.

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