Davao wants to lure more Japanese tourists

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 April) – This city is planning to put up a Davao-Japan Tourism Development and Investment Promotion Council in a bid to lure more Japanese tourists here.

Ramon Bargamento, chairman of Barangay Mintal, said the move, which was discussed during last Monday’s hearing at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, will make his barangay an educational as well as historical tourism site for Japanese visitors.

He said that the barangay hopes to be recognized as an important historical destination, with attractions such as the Ohta Kyozaburo Monument, Peace Monument, Japanese cemetery, and old-style Japanese houses. Mintal also hosts educational institutions such as the Pamulaan Centre near the University of Southeastern Philippines and the University of the Philippines Mindanao near Bago Oshiro.

Bargamento said the promotion council will include private sector partners to be decided by the mayor, who chairs the council.

Last Monday’s hearing at the city council, he added, will hopefully lead to the creation of the promotion council. Councilor Al Ryan, who heads the tourism committee, has reportedly given the go signal to proceed with the report so the proposed ordinance will be up for second reading.

The tourism council will have members from the governments of Davao City as well as members of the Consular Office of Japan, with national agencies, private sector representatives from Japanese entities, as well as the City Tourism Operations Office and the Davao City Investment Promotion Center as the secretariat.

The ordinance would involve Mintal, already being referred to as “Little Tokyo,” as an important historical destination that celebrates the impact of Japanese and Filipino relations on culture, history, and economics before and after World War II.

But Bargamento said Mintal would only be a pilot area as the project would involve various other locations in the city.

He added the creation of an ordinance would also address the lack of flights to and from Japan from Davao’s Francisco Bangoy Airport.

Bargamento said the idea has already been established as an executive order under the term of former Mayor Sara Z. Duterte.

“But we’re aiming for it to become an ordinance to make this continuing and permanent,” Bargamento said in an interview.

He said other barangays in the city have their own strengths as tourist destinations, like Calinan for the resorts and the Philippine Eagle Center, and Los Amigos for catfish dining. “But Mintal has a lot to offer in terms of educational and historical value,” Bargamento pointed out.

He said the creation of the council would also promote a stronger partnership and collaboration in education, trade, and commerce between Davao City and Japan.

The council would promote the barangay as a showcase or model site for tourism development and investments, especially for the Japanese market where other areas and communities in Davao City can benchmark for best practices, the barangay chairman said.

The idea also pushes for the barangay as an ideal retirement haven for the Japanese market, Bargamento said.

Aside from the policy directions, the council would also design projects and activities for the preservation, protection, and management of Japanese historical and cultural sites and landmarks in the city.