WITH or without martial law, tourism in Davao Region has continued to flourish, driving the region’s economy up as proven by the growing tourist arrivals who wish to visit the hometown of the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, and the revenues it has generated.
According to latest data released by the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority, Davao Region’s gross domestic product in 2016 increased by 9.4 percent, up by 1.2 percentage points as compared to the previous year
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Tourist arrivals last year reached 1.8 million as against 1.7 million in 2015.
The figures are expected to further increase with the staging this month in Davao City of what has been touted as Mindanao’s Festival of Festivals, the Kadayawan sa Dabaw. Tourism stakeholders in the city are optimistic despite the extension of the imposition of Martial Law, thousands of both local and foreign tourists are expected to flock the city to celebrate Kadayawan with Dabawenyos.
Developments in the local tourism sector never go unnoticed by country’s airline industry, which vowed to further boost the region’s tourism by expanding their operation, utilizing the F. Bangoy International Airport or the Davao City International Airport, which will also soon be undergoing expansion.
“Definitely we will expand. This is because we noticed that there is an increase of total number of passengers here as compared the previous years,” Agnes Udang, area manager of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said.
She said the expansion will include an additional bay to accommodate one boarding bridge.
This is a welcome news for airline companies, which have further strengthened their presence in this southern part of the country by adding more flights’ for domestic and international destinations.
For one, flag-carrier Philippine Airlines will launch in November, this year, its Davao-Tagbilaran-Davao route, something that Boholanos in Davao City have been anticipating for so long.
According to report published in Philippine News Agency website, the opening of the new route will enable people from Mindanao to visit Bohol, and vice versa. The report said this development was announced by Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto during the province’s recently held Management Executive Board meeting.
AirAsia has also expanded its operation at the city airport with its direct flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The airline has vowed to launch more international and domestic routes utilizing its Davao City hub to take advantage of the growing passenger volume from and to the city.
Leading airline, Cebu Pacific has also boosted its Davao hub as it commences commercial operations of new routes that link largest city in the Philippines to other key cities in the country, just in time for the kick-off of the much-anticipated Kadayawan Festival.
From the Davao hub, Cebu Pacific has the most extensive domestic route network with over 140 flights weekly from Davao to Cebu, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Dumaguete, Tacloban and Manila. CEB also has a direct flight to Singapore twice a week from Davao.
Early this month, CEB increases the frequency and capacity of its flights between Manila and Davao, upgrading the aircraft from the 180-seater Airbus A320 to a 436-seater A330. CEB also added two daily flights to and from Manila, bringing frequency to four times daily, or 28 weekly flights.
Starting last July 26, CEB wholly-owned subsidiary Cebgo started flying three times weekly (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) between Davao and Dumaguete; and four times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Saturday) between Davao and Tacloban starting July 27.
“Cebu Pacific remains bullish over prospects in Mindanao. We remain optimistic that new routes would benefit not only Davaoeños, but Mindanaoans in general, in terms of strengthening family and cultural ties, fostering domestic tourism and education exchange, and helping harness trade and business opportunities. Our new intra-island routes provide Mindanaoans convenient air connections; and support the government’s push for more infrastructure investments in Mindanao,” said Charo Logarta Lagamon, Director for Corporate Communications of Cebu Pacific.
The launch of the new flights was led by Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo and Davao City Councilors, led by Danilo Dayanghirang. The Dumaguete local government contingent took the maiden flight from Dumaguete to Davao.
“My hats off to Cebu Pacific for being the pioneer in Dumaguete; for coming in during the time when no other airline would fly to what was considered then a missionary route. The new Davao-Dumaguete route will usher in more flights and improve connectivity. It will increase economic development, extending beyond Negros Oriental to nearby Siquijor; and link Davaoeños and Dumagueteños closer. The Dumaguete City Council will work with our Davao counterpart to forge a partnership between our cities for tourism development,” added Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo
For his part, Davao City Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, representing Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, noted that, “These direct routes are an answer to the growing need for greater inter-island connectivity around the country, and are reflective of the competitiveness and reliability of Cebu Pacific. The Philippines is becoming smaller because of Cebu Pacific. We look forward to more flights between cities around the country as we move towards a stronger Philippines.”
The new routes will also result in expansion of the Cebu Pacific logistics footprint, CEB is the leading air cargo carrier in the region, transporting high-value exports such as live prawns and tuna; agricultural products like mangoes, pomelos and mangosteen; as well as other food items from Davao. In 2016 alone, CEB carried over 19,000 tons of cargo from Davao. Its cargo facility in Davao is equipped with a one-tonner forklift, making the movement of heavy-cargo easier.
“Additional routes also expand the CEB cargo service capability. This will mean faster and more efficient means for traders, exporters and entrepreneurs to move their products and raw materials; or for our overseas Filipinos to be able to send their packages back home easier. We are optimistic that the overall improvement in the CEB cargo logistics network in Mindanao will boost the local economy,” Lagamon said.