The World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM), a key player in the Philippine MICE industry, is preparing for the transition to the “new normal”, adopting new protocols and operating guidelines to help contain the spread of the virus, prevent health emergencies and to ensure the safety of all stakeholders. These guidelines are adopted from the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH). New regulations ascribe to physical and social distancing amongst exhibitors and visitors, mandatory wearing of face masks, observance of proper respiratory etiquette, and frequent disinfection and sanitation of areas frequently held/used.
The Philippine MICE industry echoes other countries’ call that it should be separated from “mass gatherings.” Exhibitions, B2B trade shows, conventions, and the wider community of MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions, exhibitions), serve vertical industries from all sectors, and stand ready to play its important role in economic recovery.
The COVID-19 global health pandemic has brought a huge impact to all industries including MICE through successive cancellations of events in the immediate response to the lockdown, or Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), as known in the Philippines, since March 2020. These cancellations of exhibitions, B2B trade shows, conventions from March till the end of the year, will cost the economy staggering amounts. The loss of potential business generated from exhibitions can go as high as Php 8.1 billion, gravely affecting domestic and international trade. Economic support measures will not sustain most of the players of this industry if not allowed to open up as early as July 2020. SMEs specifically will not survive and hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk throughout the whole value chain.
Exhibitions, B2B trade shows and conventions are focused purely on business and trade, and are not in the same category as mass public gatherings similar to large festivals, concerts, or sports matches. Environments where business events are held are in controlled venues where strict regulations are imposed. These venues are large, secured and adaptable spaces where attendees can be guided and protected comprehensively. Experience is heavier on quality trade activities between companies rather than conviviality, or being physically close to each other, as what happens in concerts and other types of mass gatherings.
The MICE Industry is ready to play a vital role in the economic recovery by providing a fast-track for companies. This will trigger a multiplier effect for other industries to follow. Exhibitions, B2B Trade Shows and Conventions are ideal catalysts for restarting economic activities while ensuring compliance with safety regulations and protocols.
A clear set of guidelines are now being put in place by WTCMM that are accepted, adhered to and respected by all stakeholders, participating companies and individuals. Attracting attendees and restoring customer confidence will consequently contribute substantially to the recovery of all travel- and tourism-related businesses like hotels, restaurants, transportation, etc.