DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 June) – The city government recorded some 975,000 tourists from January to May this year, an increase of 21 percent compared to 806,000 tourists for the same period last year.
City Tourism Office head Generose Tecson said in an interview on Tuesday attributed the increase the holding of meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) that brought in several participants.
She said the city hopes to host more huge conventions to meet the target of 2.3 million tourists by end of 2018.
She surmised that more tourists arrived after the rebooking of the conventions that were cancelled following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23 last year, noting the number of huge conventions hosted by the city had picked months later.
The official added the private sector has pushed to make the city a prime destination for MICE, a product of their strong promotion in the past to attract MICE organizers.
“They saw that it’s cheaper to hold conventions here in Davao. Our event organizers are very much capable and now that events are incentivized, they can very much outdo other places plus the fact that the city is new MICE destination outside Metro Manila,” she said.
She said the city must still improve on MICE packages to continue attracting huge conventions.
Tecson added Mayor Sara Duterte always coordinates with the police and military to maintain security in the city.
A press release issued by the City Information Office said the city will get additional 500 police “to cope with the needs of the growing population and increased tourist arrivals.”
The mayor wanted a bigger police force as the city has become an investment hub of Davao Region.
Tecson also attributed the increase to the hosting of Ironman 70.3 last March 2018 that attracted 1,800 participants from all over the world.
“I would say it helped a lot because we have international participants plus the fact that the participants themselves rated it 92 percent, which Sunrise Events (organizer) said, was very unprecedented especially for a maiden event,” Tecson added.
Another crowd drawer for the city is the Kadayawan Festival, which will start early August 2018, she said.
She said the city government commissioned Salvo Events, owned by Dan Salvaña, as the overall festival management director.
New events will also be incorporated in the event like the Kadayawan Ball, a Lumad-inspired fashion design contest, she said.
The city has 11 tribes – six Moro tribes (Taosug, Maguindanao, Iranun, Kagan, Maranao, and Sama) and five Lumad tribes (Klata, Ata, Ubo Manuvo, Matigsalog, and Tagabawa).
Tecson said the city expects the growth momentum to continue in 2019, as there have been big conventions lined up already here and another Ironman event planned for next year.
The city currently has 10,521 rooms in big and small hotels, inns, pension houses, and resorts, she said.
It has two international destinations – Singapore served by Silkair and Cebu Pacific and Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia.
But AirAsia, in a statement, announced it will suspend the four times weekly direct flights from Davao City to Kuala Lumpur effective August 21, 2018 due to financial reasons, only eight months after its maiden flight on December 21, 2017.
But the airline it will refund the full payment of the affected passengers. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)