Business tourism in the country will get another big boost after Senator Franklin M. Drilon vowed to allot a bulk of his annual priority development assistance fund and sealed the commitment of the Megaworld Corporation and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to construct a state-of-the-art convention center in Iloilo.
With the signing of the deed of donation held today between the multinational corporation and the DOT for the much-awaited multi-million peso Iloilo Convention Center, Drilon, the one who envisioned the construction of said new edifice, said Iloilo is a step closer to becoming a conference hub of Western Visayas and nearby regions.
“This is a realization of a lifelong dream of the residents of Panay Island to have their own highly impressive and sophisticated convention center at par with those of Cebu and Davao’s that will be capable to hold the best and the most glamorous of the conferences, exhibitions, among others,” said Drilon.
Aside from Drilon, also present in the signing held at the Marriott Hotel were Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Megaworld Corporation President Mr. Andrew L. Tan, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid, Iloilo City Representative Jerry Treñas, and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
The construction is expected to begin early next year and be finished by the end of 2014. The convention center is designed by Architect Willy Coscoluella.
He said the Megaworld Corp. will donate 1.7 hectares of lot located in Barangay Mandurriao in Iloilo City to house the two-storey convention center.
“We express gratitude to the Megaworld Corporation for helping us make this endeavour possible and for making our work easier by way of donating a very valuable piece of land where this new edifice will be built,” said Drilon.
He said the establishment of a convention center in the Western Visayas will extend support to the country’s rapidly growing tourism industry especially that the present government has been continuously embarking on various efforts and campaign strategies to advance tourism in the country.
“There is a need to ramp up the infrastructure in various parts of the country in order to realize our goal to become a top tourist destination in the world,” he added.
Drilon also said this undertaking will also boost the province’s capability to host the Asia Pacific Economic Council meeting in the first quarter of 2015, for the convention center is designed to attract and accommodate large sized conferences, summits, congresses, fairs, and trade shows and exhibits.
He also noted the proximity of the site for the convention to the Iloilo Airport that offers local and international flights.
“The convention will have an iconic design that truly speaks of the colorful culture not only of the Iloilo Province but of the entire island of Western Visayas. The design will be only one of its kind to the region. The Parao boats and the features of a native tribe in Iloilo called ‘Ati’ intricately carved on the walls as designs will surely entice any audience of its unique beauty,” ended Drilon.