MANILA -- Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said the country's target of 7.5 million foreign tourists for the whole of 2018 is an inch closer with the development of MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) Roadmap 2030.

MICE visitor arrivals in the Philippines were unavailable but estimates showed eight percent share in its total tourist arrivals.

The roadmap seeks a three percent increase for MICE arrivals annually.

During the roadmap's official launch Thursday, Teo said the country's successful hosting of 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and last year's Association of Southeast ASian NAtions (ASEAN) summits "proved that we are on the right track" in further developing the Philippines as a top MICE destination.

With this, Teo urged stakeholders and partners in the tourism industry "to strike while the iron is hot" and take part in achieving the tourism industry's goal.

The country used to rank eighth worldwide and first in Asia in the annual listing of world convention destinations in 1982.

In 2016, Philippine MICE placed 48th in 116 countries worldwide and 14th among 35 countries in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East region in terms of having the most number of meetings.

According to Teo, there is much to be done to achieve the 2030 goal of putting the Philippines among the top ten in the International Congress and Convention Association rank in Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Among the tasks include the development of infrastructure and logistics to help ease doing business in the country, and the improved cooperation between the public and private sector.

"I call for the continuous support and commitment of our partners in the industry and our stakeholders in the development of this roadmap as we guide the Philippines to be the leading MICE destination in Asia Pacific and the Middle East," she said.

The roadmap's target includes increasing MICE revenues from PHP4.6 billion in 2016 to PHP24.8 billion by 2030. It also aims to level the total number of usable space for exhibitions higher from 70,895 sqm. in 2017 to at least 100,000 sqm. by 2030. (PNA)