TOURIST arrivals in Davao City are expected to double during the Kadayawan Festival 2016 with hotel occupancy rates already reported at 100 percent, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
“We consulted with the hotel industry. Last call, in July, many of them were already reporting 100-percent occupancy rate. For the hotel industry, having 100-percent occupancy is very good. Hotel booking started reaching 100 percent in June and it started getting difficult to get rooms,” Regional Director Roberto Alabado 3rd of DOT Region XI told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview over the weekend.
“We’re expecting more than the average of the last few years. We’ve been averaging 150,000 visitors during the Kadayawan and this year we expect an increase given the special attention given to the Davao,” former Tourism Assistant Secretary and co-chair for Kadayawan 2016 Art Boncato Jr. also told The Manila Times.
“There has been a steady flow of people in the last few months, a lot of first timers, and some of them are really here [to get to know]what Davao is all about and at the same time, enjoying the celebration. So we expect a spike in terms of arrivals. We will get to know that after the festival,” Boncato said.
Kadayawan, which comes from the Mandaya word “mandayaw,” meaning beautiful, is an annual celebration in Davao held every third week of August. It aims to celebrate life, the gifts of nature and the rich indigenous roots of Filipinos by holding different activities.
For this year’s festival, the order from the local government was to go back to basics and go back to the origins of Kadayawan, Alabado said.
“We had a forum on looking back on the roots of Kadayawan in Ateneo. We have to tie it up with the cultural aspect. It used to be more on dance and party. Now we want this to be very culturally sensitive because we are celebrating the culture of our Muslim brothers and Lumads [indigenous peoples],” Alabado said.
“We followed the instructions of Mayor Sara [Duterte] and Vice Mayor Paolo [Duterete] to make it simple and meaningful, to focus on the culture of the eleven Lumad [groups]and Muslims in Davao so we did just that,” Boncato said.
The Kadayawan Festival 2016 is dedicated to the Kalagan or Kagan, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Iranun, Sama-Badjao, Tausog, Tagbawa, Ata, Obo Manobo, Matigsalog, and Klata/Guiangan tribes of the city.
“All of the events are celebrating the cultures of our people and really that’s because we delivered one strong and simple message to everyone, that this is a celebration of the eleven tribes of Davao,” Boncato added.
“In terms of timing we have a shorter time to prepare because the executive committee was created just last month but in terms of support, the city council put together a working team. Our steering committee members are all committed…all of them worked really hard for the success of the Kadayawan Festival,” Boncato said.
“All of our sponsors, private sector, government, and non-government have contributed all their resources even with the short time that we’ve prepared it so we are very happy because it has become not only a government celebration but a celebration of all Davaoenos and tourists,” he said.
“What we raised with the private sector was exactly what the local government was expecting to be raised from the private sector. And the local government also input their resources so in terms of sharing, it’s nearly 50:50 in investing for a week of celebration in Kadayawan. This year the budget was a little higher than usual. The budget for the festival ranges from P15 to 20 million. Now we’re on a high of P20 million,” Boncato said.
“We invested in security and safety especially that the Mayor and the Vice Mayor and the President is now the first family,” he added.