Davao tourism stakeholders told to step up game with opening of Davao-HK flights

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 May) – Tourism stakeholders here must step up the game in pushing for Davao City as a prime destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) following the announcement of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Group that it will launch a direct Davao-Hong Kong flight four times a week starting October 28, 2018.

City Tourism Office (CTO) head Generose Tecson said on Wednesday that Davao must seize the new opportunity to attract more visitors since Hong Kong is known for being Asia’s largest international aviation hub.

“More visitors can go to Davao not only from Hong Kong but also from other countries because they can fly in to Davao without having to pass by either Manila or Cebu,” she said.

Tecson added the Davao-Hong Kong flight provides convenience for outbound travellers not only from the region but also from the rest of Mindanao.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said that she has already talked to local tour operators to do business missions in Hong Kong to promote the city as a tourism destination.

She said they also want tourism stakeholders here to host familiarization tours for Hong Kong-based tour operators.

Teo added that the Department of Tourism has already sought help from Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade to help Cathay Pacific secure landing rights and waive landing and terminal fees.

The airport here has currently two international destinations – Kuala Lumpur, serviced by AirAsia; and Singapore, by SilkAir.

The CTO recorded a total of 2,009,879 tourists last year, which increased from 1,716,224 tourists recorded in 2016. The tourists came from the United States, with 20,779 visitors; Japan, 12,510; China, 9,231; Korea,7,550; Australia, 5,929; India, 4,976; Singapore, 4,040; Canada, 4,016; United Kingdom, 3,282; and Saudi Arabia, 2,371.

The Cathay Pacific Group with regional airline Cathay Dragon introduced two new routes – Davao City and Medan, the thriving capital of North Sumatra in Indonesia. The airline firm will fly to Medan thrice a week starting October 29.

The two cities are the eighth and ninth new destinations of Cathay Pacific that would boost Hong Kong’s connections with two founding member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the firm announced on April 30.

Airbus A320 aircrafts will serve both destinations, it added.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Arturo Milan said the business sector welcomes the new direct connectivity between the city and Hong Kong but he added there is a need to upgrade the terminal of Davao International Airport to be able to accommodate the increasing number of local and foreign travellers.

He said the new international flight would promote the city to foreign tourists and businessmen to come not only to the city but also to other parts of Mindanao.

“This will also encourage more investments in the tourism sector like hotels and resorts. Hopefully, more foreign destinations will open up and fly directly to Davao,” he said.

Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo said that Davao and Medan are key trade and tourism centers in their respective regions while each city has an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government to address infrastructure gap to accelerate economic growth across Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe.

He added both cities present exciting opportunities for business and leisure travellers.

“Our convenient new services will capture the demand from Hong Kong and beyond, while at the same time providing customers in the Philippines and Indonesia with more options when connecting to the Cathay Pacific Group’s extensive Mainland China and international networks,” he said.

The Cathay Pacific Group also launched services to Nanning, Jinan and Brussels this year while other new routes to take off in 2018 include Dublin in June and Washington in September, and seasonal services to Copenhagen in May and Cape Town in November. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)