Tourist arrivals in city seen to be near pre-pandemic numbers

SunStar Photo by Ian Carl Espinosa
SunStar Photo by Ian Carl Espinosa

THE Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) projects tourist arrivals to “get closer” to 2019 numbers.

Jennifer Romero, CTOO head, expressed her optimism for the city to attain near-2019 numbers, which she considers a banner year for Davao City. Notably, she said they expect around 1.8 million tourists to arrive in the city this year “based on their own forecast”.

In August 2019, Davao City welcomed 235,000 tourists, while in August 2023, the number stood at 140,000. For the four-month period of May to August 2019, the city recorded a total of 919,000 tourist arrivals, compared to 475,500 in the same period in 2023.

Amid the numbers, the CTOO head believes that the current figure is a promising indicator of the city's recovery and is hopeful that tourism numbers will continue to rise in the remaining months of the year.

Romero also said that the figures provided are not that “very precise”, as they were obtained from accredited hotel establishments in the city. However, she assured the public that efforts are being made to improve data collection and ensure more accurate statistics for future reference.

“We will try to work on and focus on our thrust that more connectivity, more tourists will come, and we will continue to promote Davao and Mindanao will always be a gem that they [tourists] have to discover, and safety and security is one thing that we should highlight,” Romero said.

The official said the “not so unsurprising” challenge in marketing the region remains the lack of flights and peace and order concerns.

In response to this, Romero said that their office is keen to strengthen the deed in seeking more flights going to and from Davao City connecting to foreign cities. She also emphasized that the city is already very capable of handling meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) events.

Additionally, Romero is optimistic that arrivals will increase coherently with next year's events in the city, with the Ironman 70.3 event expected to commence on Davao City Coastal Road on August 11, 2024. Also, next year’s Kadayawan and Araw ng Dabaw are expected to draw more tourist arrivals.

It can be noted that Davao City Mayor Sebastian "Baste" Duterte encouraged the private sector to “do their part” to achieve the pre-pandemic tourism arrivals during his State of the City Address (Soca) last July 28, 2023 at the Sangguniang Panglungsod.

“We have about 848,145 tourist arrivals from July 2022 to June 2023, medyo layo pa na siya sa pre-pandemic na atong mga (it’s quite far from our pre-pandemic) figures which is two million, pero (but) it’s not bad,” Duterte said.

“Pero kung mahimo (If possible,)... it should be a collective effort man gud... private sector, especially, kailangan (it is needed that) you have to do your part,” the mayor added.

Currently, CTOO is keen towards collaborating with other city offices as they prepare for the upcoming Pasko Fiesta, the remaining major activity planned for Davao City later this year. ICE


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