DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 May) – Expecting a deluge of visitors after a landslide victory of incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the Department of Tourism (DOT) 11 will come up with a “get-to-know-your-president” type of tour packages.
This was revealed by DOT regional director Roberto Alabado III during Tuesday’s Davao Business Forum at the SM City.
Alabado, who was former head of Davao City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) during the time of Sara Duterte-Carpio as mayor from 2010 to 2013, met a group of tour operators here to draft initial plans.
“We may have to have a tour package solely for our president. (In his campaign) we have been showcasing ano ang mga nagawa nya dito sa Davao. We are thinking of creating a tour package, focusing on him and his accomplishments, ano ang life story niya,” he said. “We can showcase him in the tour.”
Alabado said that they will suggest to Museo Dabawenyo to dedicate a room for Duterte where the visitors can learn about his personal history.
Davao City has created a curiosity among domestic tourists when Duterte led the presidential surveys and became the apparent winner after the May 9 elections, he said.
“Today, we will sit down with the tour operators. Dapat handa kami for that. There are visitors who are coming here because they want to learn about their president,” he added.
Alabado said he was thinking about including in the tour package the Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), Davao City Central 911, City Hall, and some places around the city where Duterte’s policies had transformed them into a peaceful and progressive area.
Part of the package will be a quick tour to the now popular residence of Duterte in Doña Luisa Subdivision in Matina.
He said there are tourists who became suddenly interested about how the 71-year-old mayor ran the city for more 22 years beginning in 1988 when he was first elected.
Duterte served as mayor until 1998, and again for three terms from 2001 to 2010. He served as first district representative from 1998 to 2001 and vice mayor to daughter Sara from 2010 to 2013. He was elected mayor again in 2013.
“People who would like to know Duterte would want to know the policies that he implemented in Davao which he planned to replicate in the country. Policies of the city can become an attraction by itself… kung ano ang mangyayari sa Pilipinas, i-replicate sa buong Pilipinas,” Alabado said.
Some hotel operators are experiencing high occupancy rates after Duterte’s victory, which Alabado said could be typical during election season but the tourism sector would like to sustain the growth by coming up with new tourism offerings.
“We need to enhance our tour packages para ang mga guests makita nila na malinis and progressive ang Davao and our destinations. This is the chance to promote the tourism destinations outside of Davao City,” he said.
“Ito na yung isang opportunity to market our destinations kasi dati alam ng tao Davao City ay beaches lang. With renewed interest, we are able to inform the public that there’s more to Davao,” he added.
Having the first Philippines president from Mindanao, Alabado expects that it will bring a huge impact in terms of development in the island and might improve its image in the eyes of foreign visitors.
He said the incoming president has vowed to make Mindanao “safe for tourists and will help improve (travel) advisories.”
In an interview Tuesday outside the Duterte residence, Lucille Sia Pajarito, a retired worker of an insurance firm in the California, said she came to visit her relatives in the city.
A Filipino immigrant in the United States since 1982, she said she was thrilled to see Duterte’s humble residence that she even requested her relatives to take her there before she would go back to Manila by Thursday and before leaving for the US by end of the month.
“It’s just a simple family house. I can see his personality through his house. Simple,” she said. “He loves plants,” she said, referring to the ornamental plants that adorned Duterte’s garage.
Just like other visitors, she also had her photo taken with the house in the background, along with her relatives and Duterte’s standee.
Pajarito did not expect that she could one day see by her own eyes the residence of the incoming Philippine president, not anymore on the Filipino TV news channel.
Duterte’s tough character and discipline reminds Pajarito of her dad who passed away last month.
For her, she believes that it’s about time that someone like Duterte will lead the nation.
Last May 11, Abet Valencia, a local government worker, said they started requesting their visitors to log their names and has since recorded around 1,000 visitors already.
She said that workers from city government would take shifts – 2-8 a.m., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. – to take charge of the logbook 24 hours.
Most of the visitors are coming from different parts of Mindanao, and even Manila. They would usually come in droves in the morning or at noon, she said.
“They come here by groups of different ages, from teenagers to seniors, on board private vehicles or Multicabs,” she said.