MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines recently conquered the hard court with its successful hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, which the Philippines co-hosted with Japan and Indonesia, brought together thousands of local and international basketball fans in venues all over Metro Manila and Bulacan from August 25 until September 10, with over 38,000 spectators in attendance during the opening day at the Philippine Arena alone.
According to Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, the country’s historic hosting of a sporting event as big as the FIBA World Cup 2023 brought favorable developments to the tourism industry, particularly the accommodation sector where an uptick in occupancy rates was recorded throughout the tournament duration.
“FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 has brought to the fore our excellent hospitality and the distinct Filipino virtues of familial welcome and warmth for our guests. The country’s undisputed love for basketball also shone from our united support for our Gilas Team to the record-breaking attendance on opening day. This winning feat also manifested in tourism, with teams, basketball fans, families, and members of country delegations enjoying our accommodation and hospitality industries, and discovering our local destinations,” the Tourism Chief said, revealing the Department’s commitment to further develop the promising sports tourism portfolio.
Based on the report by the Department’s National Capital Region Office (DOT-NCR), all nine (9) FIBA official hotels in the NCR—where most of the FIBA official venues were located—saw a higher average hotel occupancy from August 25 to September 12.
For instance, Conrad Manila reported a 100 percent average hotel occupancy from August 25 to September 12. Other hotels in Pasay also saw a higher average hotel occupancy, including Hotel101-Manila and Microtel MOA both reported 92 percent, Hilton Manila with 91.8 percent, and TRYP MOA with 91 percent. Meanwhile, Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig also reported an impressive 96 percent hotel occupancy rate during the same period.
Boost in visitor arrivals
The DOT’s Statistics, Economic Analysis and Information Management Division (SEAIMD) in a recent report likewise observed an increase in the volume of visitor arrivals to the Philippines from countries with FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 participating teams for the period July 1 to September 12.
Out of the 20 countries with teams that competed in the recently-concluded sporting event, almost half registered a growth rate of more than 100 percent in terms of visitor arrivals to the Philippines from July 1 to September 12 versus the same period in 2022.
Among these countries with notable growth rate in arrivals to the Philippines during the specified period include: Dominican Republic (700%); Latvia (600%), China (595.85%); Lithuania (444.58 %); and Serbia (429.07%).
DOT, stakeholders all out in giving warm Filipino welcome
It can be recalled that President Marcos Jr. in August ordered the creation of an inter-agency task force that would coordinate efforts for the “effective preparation and successful participation of all delegates in the FIBA World Cup 2023.” and with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as lead agency.
Heeding the President’s call for a whole-of-government approach towards the country’s hosting of the FIBA World Cup 2023, the DOT offered its full support by way of efforts that will help promote the sporting event, and to ensure that teams and visiting fans are greeted with the distinct Filipino hospitality.
In addition to the Department conducting training sessions on the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) for close to 500 FIBA World Cup 2023 volunteers, as well as extending a warm reception to the FIBA participating teams, it partnered with its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), to enhance key areas, including airports, competition venues, as well as non-competition venues including official hotels, practice gyms, and fan zones.
Synergy of tourism consortium members to continue
In encouraging visitors to explore the country in between FIBA matches, the DOT rallied national tourism associations including the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), the Hotel Sales and Marketing Professionals (HSMA), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) in forming a tourism consortium that offered FIBA-exclusive tour packages to some of the country’s tourism gems.
According to TCP President Bob Zozobrado, the consortium came out as one of the ‘major wins’, seeing how the private players came together to work on tourism packages and launch these in time for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
“The DOT has full support of the private sector. We were told in such a short time and practically, overnight, we are ready. That’s how supportive the private sector is of whatever endeavor DOT involves itself with. We reassure Secretary Frasco that she can call on us anytime,” Zozobrado said.
For PHILTOA President Fe Abling-Yu, the consortium allowed private tourism sector players to “synergize more on sports tourism” and realize the “great potential and demand” for this particular product.
“This partnership with all the associations, we extended this beyond the consortium. We partnered with our tour operators in Boracay, Coron, and in the other ten destinations. We did not only include the tour operators, but other sectors as well, including transportation. Ang magandang na-establish out of this, nagkaroon talaga ng one mind kaming mga private stakeholders, na let’s gather ourselves and see how we can help the government, particularly the Department of Tourism, to align kung ano talaga ang kanilang adhikain,” Abling-Yu added.
The MVP group and FIBA International in a separate effort have contracted the services of a travel and tours agency in offering activities including adventure, heritage, wellness, jeepney tours, and calesa rides to more than 700 delegates composed of VIPs and guests of the FIBA World Congress.
Members of the tourism consortium have positively welcomed the initiatives, noting that these contribute to the tourism industry as a whole.
“It showed the warmth and hospitality and the friendly people of the Philippines. They only saw Metro Manila because that was where the games were, but in terms of the support of the government to a private event, it was 100 percent,” PATA Philippines Chapter Chairperson Maria Paz Alberto said.
“We are very happy that there are bookings,” PATA Philippines Chapter board of trustee-treasurer Marlene Insigne added.
According to Secretary Frasco, the DOT hopes to further strengthen the strong public-private tourism partnership that started with FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, especially with the Philippines’ expected hosting of more important international events slated this year and 2024.
“Central to our whole-of-nation campaign effort to champion Philippine tourism under the Marcos administration is to support and work closely with all of our stakeholders from all aspects of the tourism value chain. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for our partners, especially the national tourism associations—the TCP, PHILTOA, PATA, and the HSMA—who without hesitation, answered the call to unite and work together in our earnest desire to encourage foreign and local basketball fans to explore and Love the Philippines,” Secretary Frasco said.
“It is our hope that we can continue this tourism consortium as the country gears up for more big-ticket events,” she added.