This Month we get to know better Clark Development Corporation
What was your motivation to join ICCA?
As a burgeoning M.I.C.E. destination in the Philippines, we joined ICCA tobetter understand the Meetings and Conventions industry, learn from the world’s best practitioners, and grow our professional network.
For the past 30 years, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) has endeavored to transform Clark Freeport Zone – a former U.S. Air Force Base – into a thriving aerotropolis, socioeconomic hub, and tourism destination. With the presence of the Clark International Airport and top hospitality brands inside the Freeport Zone, entering the M.I.C.E. industry was the next logical step in our development.
To guide us in this new direction, we saw fit to join ICCA, the community and standard for the international Meetings and Conventions industry. ICCA’s comprehensive association meetings database, complex communication channels, and countless networking opportunities will contribute to the Freeport Zone’s business development and investment promotion initiatives.
We were also encouraged by the Philippines’ Tourism Promotions Board and Department of the Tourism to join your prestigious organization, noting that our membership would strengthen our capabilities to host large-scale M.I.C.E. events, provide educational opportunities for our people, and support our bid to become the premier M.I.C.E. destination in the Philippines. We also aspire to position Clark and mark our spot in the ICCA Country and City Rankings.
Tell us your story. How did Clark Development Corporation get started?
CDC was established in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 and subsequent withdrawal of the U.S. military from Philippine bases. Under Executive Order No. 80 dated 3 April 1993, CDC was created to operate, administer, manage, and develop Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) and Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), which are located in the former Clark Air Force Base. CDC is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) and a subsidiary of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
What sets Clark Development Corporation apart?
CDC is one of six1 government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) tasked with converting former U.S. bases into productive business and tourism assets. What sets us apart further is the exponential progress and record-breaking earnings that characterize CDC’s accomplishments for the past 30 years. We have successfully transformed an eruption-battered Air Base into a valuable Freeport Zone that welcomes millions of tourists annually and hosts 1,136 locators employing over 127,000 workers. With 11 industries currently based in Clark, each locator has the potential to become an ambassador of Clark in their respective member associations.
With our recent foray into M.I.C.E. tourism, we are on our way to developing Clark into a true Live-Work-Play destination.
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
In our opinion, CDC’s entire 30-year history is a beautiful success story. Born from the ashes of Mount Pinatubo, our people were able to transform a desolate land into a functioning and productive socioeconomic hub.
What can we expect to see from Clark Development Corporation in the future?
Next year, CDC will host the Philippine M.I.C.E Conference, the largest gathering of M.I.C.E. professionals in the country. It will mark a decade since Clark first hosted this prestigious event.
In the next five years, we endeavor to bid for and welcome more Asia-Pacific and international association meetings in Clark. This will be in fulfilment of our renewed vision to develop the Freeport Zone into the premier M.I.C.E. destination in the Philippines.
Which trends do you see in the Association Meetings?
In Clark, we are seeing a return to face-to-face meetings with a hybrid component. The latter is a unique development post-pandemic and enhances each event’s accessibility to its intended audience.
Organizers are also inquiring now about auxiliary activities available in the destination. We have, for instance, received queries about farm tourism products in Clark or its neighboring areas. More and more, we are seeing an emphasis on destinations that can provide venues for professional meetings and recreational facilities that are local, authentic, and experiential.
Venue development is also a major consideration for CDC at the moment. We are receiving queries and, at the same time, targeting investors to increase the number of meeting facilities in the Freeport Zone. Feedback from organizers have also leaned towards this, citing the need for more venues outside of Metro Manila that can host executive and industry meetings of all sizes.
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
The M.I.C.E. industry, in general, is little known and understood in the Philippines. CDC’s recent drive to promote the 2024 Philippine M.I.C.E. Conference have generated questions like, “is M.I.C.E. the same as concerts and sporting events?” and “what do we gain from M.I.C.E.?”
There remains a need to cultivate a strong culture of M.I.C.E. (and tourism) readiness in Clark. Becoming a member of ICCA, certainly, is an important step in this endeavor.