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Destination Philippines 36 JUL-AUG 2019 MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS MCMAG-ASIA.COM There was a time when all that was necessary for a successful conference was a venue, a stage, a speaker, an internet connection and an overhead projector. Today, this no longer cuts it. The growing preference is for a business meeting that provides an experience. With organisers looking for venues close to tranquil settings that allow guests to become immersed in the local culture, the Philippines is an easy choice. It's culturally rich and provides some of the most stunning locations in the Asia-Paci!c region. Thanks to continued pressure on the Philippines peso, it's also wallet-friendly. Monette Iturralde-Hamlin of TeamAsia said that facilities in the Philippines for mega-events – those with more than 20,000 attendees – were di$cult but perfect for incentive groups. "The Philippines is a beautiful country and we have a lot of top-grade international resorts - there's a lot of natural beauty on o"er, so incentive trips are continuing to come here," she said. This means that Manila – despite the well-established infrastructure - is now not the only game in town, as conventions continue to seek unique experiences around the country. Here's what to expect in three major centres outside Manila: CEBU Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) is close to the Mactan International Airport and ideally located within Mandaue's business district. The CICC sprawls over nearly three hectares, has a plenary hall, eight The strength of the Philippines lies not in its state-of-the-art convention centres – although it has plenty – but its stunning natural setting. For incentive groups, it's ideal. WORDS PETER SHADBOLT Why Manila's Not The Only Game In Town meeting rooms and !ve multi-purpose halls. Second only to Manila in terms of urban buzz, Cebu is also the scuba-diving epicentre of the Philippines. Scuba dive in the coral islands of Mactan, Moalboal, Pescador and Badian, or swim with whale sharks at Oslob. BAGUIO and BANAUE Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines, sits on a plateau 1,400m above sea level. The Baguio Country Club, the CAP- John Hay Trade and Cultural Convention Centre and the Hotel Supreme Convention Plaza all have a capacity of 3,000 attendees, making them ideal for large incentives. The region's highlight is the spectacular World Heritage–listed Banaue Rice Terraces. For golfers, tee o" at the Camp John Hay Golf Club in Baguio City, designed by Jack Nicklaus. DAVAO SMX Davao is unarguably the centrepiece of Mindanao's convention centre o"erings. It has three function rooms, !ve meeting rooms, 5,200sqm of leasable space and can hold anywhere from 5,500 attendees to an intimate group of 10. Mindanao o"ers interesting ethnic activities: See the skilled mat weavers of Sinawilan or T'boli handloomers at work. At Hondo or Taluksangay, sail out in a colourful vinta: a traditional Filipino sail boat. Environmentally-conscious attendees can visit the Philippine Eagle Centre to learn about the endangered national bird. World Heritage–listed Banaue Rice Terraces. Whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu. PHOTO CREDIT: DE-WIT/GETTY IMAGES PHOTO CREDIT: OUTCAST85/GETTY IMAGES

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