Iloilo bid to become MICE destination gets big boost | Inquirer Business
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Iloilo bid to become MICE destination gets big boost

/ 01:39 AM October 05, 2015

ILOILO CITY—Local industries are expected to reap significant benefits from the increased focus being given by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) on the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are regarded as critical to ensuring an inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Diosdado P. Cadena Jr., provincial director for the Department of Trade and Industry-Aklan, explained in an interview that while the strong push for MSMEs had long been part of the agency’s mandate, its prominent inclusion in the Apec agenda meant the advocacy to develop and promote MSMEs on all aspects of enterprise development would be further strengthened and prioritized.

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The Apec meetings that were held in Iloilo earlier were a follow up to the “Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” an initiative adopted by trade ministers in Boracay in May.

In Aklan, for instance, Cadena noted that the priority sectors that were expected to get a boost from this increased focus on MSMEs included indigenous raw materials, food processing, tourism and agriculture.

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“Aklan is popular for the piña cloth with abaca, so that’s one of the priority sectors that we can promote further and expand. We also have food processing and crafts to help support tourism. When we say tourism, it’s not just about the destinations. When tourists come, they are expected to [spend here as well] and this can be for souvenir items and food,” he said.

“We should, therefore, strengthen the agriculture sector so the benefits will trickle down to the [grassroots level], which will then be included in the growth and development of the province,” Cadena added.

Cadena pointed out the need to put in place policies that would enhance the competitiveness of MSMEs which, globally, comprise 98 to 99 percent of all registered businesses. This means MSMEs play a critical role in creating employment and providing income opportunities.

Such policies would be deemed useful in addressing the hurdles to expanding the operations of MSMEs. The biggest hurdle so far is access to financing, according to Cadena.

“While funds are available, the problem is access. There should be a policy to ease or provide more access to MSMEs. We need to bring these funds closer to the MSMEs, as access is being hampered largely by certain requirements imposed by lenders,” Cadena added.

In a separate interview, Rebecca M. Rason, acting provincial director for DTI-Iloilo, noted that the holding of Apec meetings in Iloilo was hoped to boost the potential of the province to be a Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) destination in the region.

This potential was further enhanced with the establishment of the recently inaugurated Iloilo Convention Center. It is expected that a booming MICE industry in the province will serve as a significant driver of economic development that will support related industries such as tourism, services, transport, food and manufacturing. Amy R. Remo

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TAGS: APEC, apec 2015, Business, conventions, Enterprise, exhibitions, Iloilo, incentives, Industry, Meetings, Mice
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