DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 January) – Chinese tourists in Davao City surged to 14,934 last year or an increase of 37.93-percent compared to 10,827 recorded in 2018, making China the second biggest market of Davao’s tourism industry, according to data from the City Tourism Office (CTO).
The exponential growth in the arrival of Chinese visitors dwarfed even that of Americans and Japanese last year.
The record showed that Americans, who topped the list, grew by 3.36-percent from 21,324 in 2018 to 22,041 while the Japanese visitors grew only by 3.44-percent from 12,800 in 2018 to 13,241 last year.
The Xiamen Airlines opened twice weekly Davao-Quanzhou, China direct flights on December 18, 2018 to serve as an air bridge to better enhance bilateral trade relations with Jinjiang, Davao’s sister city since 2007.
Hongkong-based Cathay Pacific Group also launched a five times weekly direct Davao-Hong Kong flight.
Rounding up the city’s top 10 foreign visitors were South Koreans (8,347), Indians (7,121), Australians (6,487), Singaporeans (4,374), Canadians (3,995), and British (3,552) and Emiratis (2,732).
CTO head Generose Tecson remained hopeful that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) would not put a dent on the growing tourism figures of Davao as the Chinese visitors comprised 0.58-percent of the total tourist arrivals in the city last year.
She said the city posted a total of 2,573,990 arrivals last year, an increase of 7.55-percent from 2,393,384 in 2018.
Of the total arrivals, she said 182,825 were foreigners.
“We hope that the virus will be controlled immediately and normal operations resume,” she said. “We are cognizant of the Chinese government’s requests to their travel agencies to stop sending group tours to Davao in the wake of spread of nCOV. While as a whole, this will not affect out arrivals much.”
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industries Inc. president John Tria said no cancellations of events in Davao had been reported in light of the global scare of 2019-nCoV, first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.
In a statement on Thursday evening, City Mayor Sara Duterte said the city has been closely “monitoring with the Department of Health and other national government agencies on what measures to take to prevent and control the spread of the virus.”
She said health standards have been placed “to avert the feared spread of the virus. People showing symptoms and have been suspected as possible cases were closely and properly monitored by our health professionals trained to handle these cases.”
She called for sobriety and asked “the public to stop spreading misinformation, which could only aggravate the situation.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved a travel ban on Friday for visitors from the Hubei province of China where the 2019-nCoV originated, and other places in China where there the disease has spread.
The Palace said the ban came a day after the Department of Health confirmed the first case of 2019-nCoV in the country.
Panelo said it would continue “until the threat is over given that that the safety of our countrymen is foremost in the President’s mind.”
“This raises a serious concern by the Administration on the health and safety of our countrymen. The DOH has been instructed by the President to commence the protocols it has prepared for such an eventuality to contain the disease and neutralize its transmission and spread,” Panelo said.
The patient who is a 38-year old woman from China is currently confined at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
Panelo said the woman flew to Hongkong, then to Cebu and Dumaguete, and finally landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“Per DOH Secretary Duque, the patient is being treated and isolated. There is no way that she will transmit the disease to another person as the hospital personnel are protectively dressed and their mouths and noses covered with surgical masks plus their hands covered with gloves,” Panelo said.
He said the DOH assured every measure has been undertaken to “contain the spread of the dreadful virus as well as monitoring and placing in quarantine those showing of symptoms of having nCov.”
“We ask our countrymen to follow the advice of the DOH to observe personal hygiene as a preventive measure like regularly washing one’s hands and wearing surgical masks in going around crowded areas,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)