LOW-COST airline Cebu Pacific officially launched on Thursday direct flights between Davao and Singapore. which should boost tourism not just in the Davao Region but also Mindanao Island as a whole, a tourism official said.
“Now, Cebu Pacific will be offering our only direct flight—Singapore-Davao, but we have an existing Davao-Cebu-Singapore that’s by SilkAir. So with these two flights, I think
Davao can have greater access to the international market,” Roberto Alabado 3rd, Department of Tourism (DOT) XI regional director, told The Manila Times in an interview.
“Seeing that Singapore is an international hub, we may, in the future, be able to enjoy that benefit but now we are looking at attracting Singaporeans to consider Davao as a weekend getaway for their vacations or holidays,” Alabado said.
“We will be presenting the dive sites of Samal, we will be presenting the nature spots of Davao Region to the Singaporean market,” he said.
“We expect that an aggressive marketing by the private sector and by the DOT will be conducted or implemented next year. The private sector and the DOT are planning to visit Singapore. Ang term namin is, Let’s bring Davao to Singapore. Let them get a taste of Davao to get them to come to Davao,” he continued.
Alabado said Davao International Airport is still an underutilized airport. “We are still looking for more direct flights,” he said.
Davao’s top markets are South Korea, the United States, Japan, Australia and China.
The DOT official said the volume of foreign arrivals in the region is not yet that large. “We really have to work on it,” he said.
“If we have 2.5 million tourist arrivals here, they just comprise 5 percent of the whole.
That is why we are relying still on the domestic market. But we are hoping that with this new route, we may be attracting more international tourists to come here. That is why we are aggressive in tapping more opportunities,” Alabado said.
“For next year we are expecting it to increase to 2.8 million tourist arrivals. We have to contribute to the targets of the national. So it’s driving us to really go to Singapore,” he said.
DOT records show that total foreign tourist arrivals in the country reached 3.59 million during the first eight months of 2015, up nearly 10 percent from a year ago.
Alabado is promoting the Davao Region as an ecotourism hub, particularly Island Garden City of Samal.
“If you say Samal, we have a lot of people coming to Davao and that’s around 2.5 million annually. We recently conducted a survey amongst visitors here in Davao City on where do they go and we saw that the number one destination for those who go to Davao is actually Samal,” he said.
“That is the relationship between Davao and Samal. Even the image of Davao would always be Samal. It’s the beaches. When you say let’s go to Davao, it’s always the beaches,” he added.