DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Dec) – Around 300 runners from 20 countries will participate in the three-day Mt. Apo Sky and Vertical Race from December 16 to 18 in Sta. Cruz municipality, Davao del Sur.
Sta. Cruz tourism officer Julius Paner said during Wednesdays’ Habi at Kape that this will be the first time that an international racing event would take place since the closure of Mt. Apo in 2020 amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said the Mt. Apo Sky and Vertical Race is co-organized by the Asia Trail Master, an international trail running organization, which tapped the municipality to host the culmination and championship final.
“They gave the manifestation to hold it in the Philippines for the first time. They have been doing it throughout but not yet here in the Philippines,” he said.
He said the racers will compete in three categories: 50, 75, and 100 kilometers.
Race director Romualdo Cabales said the champions would be hailed as the fastest in Asia.
He said the winners in the 100-km category will represent the country in another international race in April 2023.
Paner said hosting an international race is a good mechanism to regain the travelers’ confidence, most especially that the municipality is positioning itself as an eco-adventure destination.
“It’s a good signal that the Davao Region is tourist-ready in terms of international arrivals. We are trying to position Davao del Sur to be an eco-adventure destination. For the longest time, that’s how we brand our locality because that’s the strength of Davao del Sur. Mount Apo is the highest peak and there are attractions within the foothills,” he said.
Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao director Tanya Rabat-Tan said that the region is excited to hold the event because it would give them the opportunity to showcase the area, particularly Mt. Apo as an “icon of Davao, “to the international delegates.
“It’s an opportunity for us to make them feel that we are ready. We want to promote Davao as a safe destination for our tourists,” she said.
The director added that 2022 is a good year for tourism because they are starting to see activities happening after more than two years of community restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data released by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)-Davao last February 7 showed that tourist arrivals in Davao Region were reported at 1,306,732 in 2021, lower by 3.9% from 1,360,168 in 2020.
Data showed the region received 1,062,000 visitors for the first quarter of 2020 just before lockdowns were imposed and flights cancelled. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)