DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 November) – More Japanese investors are exploring business opportunities in this city dubbed a century ago as “Little Tokyo,” Lemuel Ortonio, head of the Davao City Investments Promotion Office (DCIPC) said.
“More are still on the scouting stage, checking on what possible investment areas are feasible for investing,” Ortonio said in an e-mail to MindaNews.
His office has been receiving weekly visits from potential Japanese investors since President Rodrigo Duterte, who served as mayor of the city for 22 years, assumed office last year, Ortonio said.
They have yet to determine how many of these investment inquiries have come to fruition, he said.
But he noted Sustena Inc., a renewable energy company based in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan, with offices in Makati and Cebu, has recently entered Davao.
Ortonio visited Japan for a Davao Investment and Tourism Roadshow from October 16 to 20 in Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama and Tokyo, along with other delegates from the public and private sector. The roadshow was intended to give the Japanese an idea of the city’s tourism and investment opportunities for foreign investors.
“More importantly, the activity provided an opportunity to share to the Japanese government and private organizations that the Philippines is more than just Manila, Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay,” he said.
Duterte announced, upon arrival Tuesday evening from his two-day working visit in Japan, 309 billion pesos worth of deals with Japanese invesors and a pledge from the Japanese government worth 456 billion pesos for the “Build, Build, Build” program and Marawi’s rehabilitation.
As a strong trading partner of the Philippines, Ortonio said they want to change the perception of the Japanese on the peace and order situation in the city and that the city is “safe for Japanese tourists and investors,” he said.
Ortonio said two Japanese businessmen who have been doing business in the city, joined the 20-member delegation and provided the Japanese “testimonials on how safe Davao City is and how easy it is to set up a business in the city.”
The delegates met with top executives of local chambers of commerce and representatives of large tourism associations in Japan – Japan Tourism Association (JATA) and Overseas Tour Operator Association of Japan – and held a Tokyo-Davao City Business Forum that was organized in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Japan.
During the business-to-business meeting, Ortonio said agribusiness firm Yogel Yovel Agri Enterprise forged a memorandum of understanding with Bioactives Japan for the construction of a post-harvest facility to enable the agribusiness firm to produce puree out of vegetables and fruits.
He said representatives from Bioactives Japan visited the city for several times before firming up an agreement with agribusiness firm.
“The objective of the roadshow was to promote Davao City as a preferred investment and tourism destination to the Japanese market which was achieved by the Davao delegation. Closing deals is considered already as icing on the cake by the Davao delegation. Most if not all of the private sector delegation had fruitful discussions with their counterparts in Japan,” he said.
On tourism, Ortonio said they learned what tour operators have for Japanese are tour packages created for Cebu, Boracay and Palawan but said they signified the interest to visit Davao to check what available tourists attractions to create outbound tour packages for the Japanese.
Generose Tecson, City Tourism Officer, said executives from OTOA and JATA advised them to create packages suited for the Japanese market because “they haven’t heard much about Davao except that it’s PRRDs (President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s) hometown.”
“Also that we should keep on promoting Davao. Both associations however indicated that they are much willing to conduct a familiarization tour to Davao,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MIndaNews)