DESPITE Tropical Storm Vinta, the first batch of passengers of the Davao-Kuala Lumpur flight travelled safely during its first flight last Thursday, December 21.

According to City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) there is an estimate of about 180 passengers abroad the first Davao-Kuala Lumpur of AirAsia. These passengers were a mix of both Malaysians and Filipinos. The flight has a 100 percent load factor.

The Davao-Kuala Lumpur flight, which was a product of the investment talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes during Duterte's visit in Cambodia last year, was officially launched during the Davao Investment Conference (Icon) on July 21.

On its official launching, the flight offered P99 all-in-fare discounts available for booking from July 21 to July 30 with travel period from December 21 to August 28, 2017. There will be a Dvo-KL flight four times a week, every Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

In a statement, the low-cost airline said the new route signified the fourth direct route from Malaysia to the Philippines after Manila, Cebu and Kalibo.

"We are confident that by increasing connectivity and accessibility to air travel, we can help play a role in boosting economic growth in the south," Fernandes said in an earlier interview.

The Department of Tourism (DOT)-Davao Region is expecting a surge of Muslim travelers coming to Davao City following the AirAsia’s Davao – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia direct flight set on December 21.

“We are making ourselves ready. Davao has made a lot of Halal-related initiatives. We are making our tourism sites Muslim-friendly,” DOT-Davao regional director Roberto Alabado III.

At present, they are in talks with Davao restaurants and hotels urging these establishments to be, if not Halal-certified, at least Muslim-friendly.

DOT-Davao Region tourism operations chief Zuhairah Abas-Diamla said that business owners here are also excited with the upcoming tourists and making Davao Muslim-friendly hub.

“We are very positive with the Halal industry because the city government is very supportive and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio knows how big the market is,” she said.

Also she said that the flight will not only bring in tourists but also investors who are seeing much potential in Davao City as an investment hub. (With ASP)