Wednesday, April 3, 2013
CEBU is vying to become the host venue for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in 2015, a business leader announced.
Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) private sector representative Gordon Alan Joseph told Sun.Star Cebu that Cebu will be pitching this May 27 to be the event venue for one or more of the 13 events and meetings that will form part of the Apec Summit from December 2014 to December 2015, with the culminating Apec Heads of State Summit toward the end of 2015.
Joseph said the MCDCB was the organization appointed to make the pitch. “We are going to pitch for the main summit of the Heads of State, and for as many of the smaller ministerial meetings.”
Joseph said they have begun to prepare the presentation with the assistance of the three business chambers, the national agencies, the local government units (LGUs) of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, with Ambassador Frank Benedicto as the honorary chairman and advisor. The team met last March 25.
“If we win the main summit, Cebu will be in the face of the world all throughout 2015. We want to win it and we hope we do,” he said.
Joseph, who is also the president of Cebu Business Club, said the summit is expected to draw 900 to 2,000 delegates for smaller ministerial meetings and up to 7,000 delegates for the major summit, which will last for seven days.
The team, he said, is making an inventory of what Cebu has and what Cebu will need, to host the major summit. If selected, the National Government will pour in a “significant” amount of money toward funding needed improvements.
“If we win it, this will be a major shot in the arm for Cebu,” said Joseph.
All key cities with airports are given the opportunity to pitch. Reports said nine cities in the country were shortlisted as potential sites to host senior official meetings and sectorial ministerial meetings. These are Metro Manila, Tagaytay, Clark, Subic, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod and Boracay.
But Joseph believes Cebu has the competitive edge over other key cities in the country.
“We anticipate that Cebu will host at least two or three of the meetings, in a worst-case scenario,” he said.
He said cities will need more than airports to host the meetings. They will need convention centers and five-star hotel accommodations, which are “sorely lacking” outside Metro Manila and Cebu.
On top of these, he said Cebu has already proven to be the ideal venue for major summits after it hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in January 2007.
“We did it before and we did it well. We know how to work regardless of political affiliation,” Joseph said. “Cebu is the only place in the country with this scale of public-private partnership involved in integrated planning, governance and sustainable development.”
The criteria for the selection of host cities include facilities and infrastructure like airports, roads, hotels, convention space, security, and public safety. Others include a risk assessment and disaster preparedness plan, power and water availability, and medical services.
The host cities will be determined in the first week of June this year.
Cebu’s optimism about winning the pitch stems from the major infrastructure already in place. Joseph noted that among all competitors outside of Manila, Cebu has the most number of operational quality hotel rooms and hotel rooms under construction.
The peace and order, adequate power supply and its image as a tourism destination in the country are also Cebu’s main selling points.
If Cebu is chosen as the summit venue, the MCDCB will envision the Apec Summit as a starting point for thinking about long-term gains for the province.
“If we win the pitch, we intend to build on the experience from the Asean Summit. We will not plan for short-term gains, such as what was experienced in the Asean Summit, with the ridiculous lamp posts and beautification that cost so much money and eventually disappeared,” he stressed.
Various improvements will be conducted if Cebu will be selected to host the summit and small meetings.
Joseph identified the airport, which will need an immediate and lasting facelift, and the ongoing partial expansion must be completed. He pointed out that the airport may also need ancillary buildings to house VIPs or the completion of the administration building, which can be used as a command centre and holding area for VIPs.
The Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) will also need major renovation and expansion. Road networks also need improvement, particularly better access to and from Mactan. The MCDCB, Joseph said, has already proposed a number of infrastructure projects that will serve the APEC’s requirement and pointed out these are well-studied projects, rather than politically motivated projects.
The LGUs will also need to work on sustainable garbage and sewage handling and management, traffic control systems and management, sustainable cleanliness and beautifications, peace and order, tourist-related signage and tourist/pedestrian oriented sidewalks, among others.
In a separate interview, Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said she believes Cebu is prepared to hold such a big event. “Everybody should be excited about Cebu’s interest to host the Apec Summit. We should be the host venue because we are capable,” she said.
The Apec Summit is a forum of 21-member countries that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The summit will be held in Indonesia this year, China in 2014 and Peru in 2016.