ICon Paves way for inclusive growth
Iloilo City—In less than two years, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICon) did more than elevate this city’s position as a viable meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) destination.
With around three or four national conventions now being held at the ICon almost every month, this state-of-the-art venue has spurred the development of sectors that can boost inclusive growth, including tourism, gifts and furnishings, fresh and processed food, textile, transportation, among others. The multiplier effect was truly massive, this early.
City Tourism Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia acknowledged the crucial role that the ICon played in changing the tourism landscape of Iloilo City, given the boom they are experiencing on the back of the aggressive developments within the Iloilo Business Park, home of the 1.7-hectare ICon.
“The tourism boom is mainly because of the MICE events we are getting with the convention center. Almost every month, we have big hostings, including international conventions. Before the ICon, we didn’t have here in Iloilo facilities and venues as big as this one,” Divinagracia said.
She disclosed that tourist arrivals in the province have now more than doubled to over a million guests as of last year—a development that has seen the creation of fresh, quality jobs and the growth of homegrown sectors in Iloilo.
“Now, among the beneficiaries of this tourism boom are the micro, small and medium sized enterprises engaged in food that are being marketed as pasalu-bong, boutique hotel owners, the caterers, those in the transportation sector, those who are in the business of creating souvenirs and gifts. You see, every time we have a convention here, we make sure that guests will have a taste of local delicacies. We send them a basket of these products which include contact numbers of these suppliers to help our MSMEs. We also featured the hablon in some events to promote our local products,” Divinagracia explained.
An infrastructure project of the Department of Tourism, ICon was built on a 1.7-hectare lot donated by property giant Megaworld Corp., within its 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park in the Mandurriao District.
It first opened its doors in September 2015 to welcome delegates of the prestigious Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) ministerial meetings.
This venue, which has a seating capacity of 3,700, was said to be a “symbol of Ilonggo passion and culture.”
The 15 exterior fins were said to have been inspired by Iloilo’s colorful Paraw Sail, while the venue’s glass walls feature an abstract design of the Dinagyang Festival.