Chinese groups eye Davao City as PHL’s new tourism, investment destination
By Lovely A. Carrillo
DAVAO CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) — The city is being eyed as the new tourism and investment destination for Chinese nationals, with 20 bankers and their spouses from Beijing expected to visit for a four-day, three-night tour anytime soon.
“This is the first organized Beijing groups to come here. We hope to get the market as these are Chinese big spenders and not just ordinary tourists,” said Alex Divinagracia, Vice President for Travels and Tours of the Davao Tourism Association (DATA).
Divinagracia said this is an offshoot of the previous sales missions made by former Tourism Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato.
There is an influx of inbound travel to the Philippines and one of the cities benefiting from this is Davao, he added.
Jean Rose Tecson, City Tourism Officer, said there is also a group of tour operators from Xiamen who is now in the city from Dec. 3-7.
Meanwhile, a group of Chinese investors are set to visit Davao City next year to check out opportunities in infrastructure, real estate and tourism.
Earlier, Davao City Council Majority Floor Leader Bernard Al-ag said Chinese investors are also expected to visit the city next year to look for possible opportunities in real estate and other investments.
“We offered them the Three Ridges Integrated Area Development (TRIAD) area as this has been classified as a tourism development zone,” he said. TRIAD includes Barangays Catigan, Eden and Tagurano in Toril.
The Department of Tourism in Davao Region (DOT-XI) is also eyeing regular flights between Davao and Xiamen this month. This is in addition to the regular Xiamen-Manila and Xiamen-Cebu flights.
It can be recalled that Xiamen Air brought some 80 Chinese businessmen and tourists to the city a few months ago to test the waters.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Eden David earlier said Davao is a viable market for Chinese tourists in the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) tourist sector.
She added there are other feeder markets that go to Xiamen and a regular flight between Xiamen and Davao will help push the traffic between the said areas.
Jazmin Esguerra, previously the country’s attache to China and now tourism consultant for the region, said it is possible to recapture the Chinese market now that a better relationship has been established after President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China.
With the lifting of the travel advisory against the Philippines, Esguerra said the Philippines should try to get its share of the 120 million Chinese travelers (3015 travel data) with a total outbound expenditures amounting to USD194 billion.
Esguerra however said “we have to start again, more than 400 countries are promoting to the Chinese market so we have to start at the bottom again.”
She said it is not too late for the country’s tourism sector to lure the Chinese market but it will depend on the quality and quantity of promotions that will be done by the government.
“There are more than 620 million internet users and more than 80 percent mobile device users in China so social media has a huge impact in the decision-making process of the Chinese tourists in choosing their destinations,” she said.
The top 10 outbound destination of Chinese tourists in 2014 are Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Macao, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and France.
“There’s a problem in Thailand since they are in mourning and has limited tourism promotion and offerings and we should take advantage of this because we are nearer. They will come here for beach holidays, shopping and the Philippine Eagle Center because they do not have that,” she said.
Esguerra, however, said the Philippines is more expensive than Bali in Indonesia and Thailand so we offer perks and improve our tourism products and experience.
This is a big challenge considering that the tourism budget has been reduced by 40 percent this year, she added.
Among the tourism products in the Davao Region which could lure the Chinese tourists are its natural environment including the beaches and the mountain resorts but the experience has to be enhanced by bringing in fresh fruits and vegetables to cater to health-conscious tourists as well as organic and grilled food. (PNA)