Davao on the rise
Subscribe Now August 03, 2012 at 09:58am
The traffic situation around the area is still manageable but there are times when it calls to mind EDSA during rush hour. Why then does Davao still feel the need to increase tourist arrivals, a goal it has been aiming at for the past several years? The short answer would be that there are no direct foreign arrivals despite the city’s airport being an international hub.
“Cebu Pacific used to offer direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore while Tiger Airways flew direct from Singapore but after a couple of months, both airlines scrapped their flights,” Marco Polo Davao General Manager Bruno Simeoni said.
Although flights to the two Asian countries were popular with Mindanaoans, return flights were not as popular, he said. In the end, the airlines decided it wasn’t worth maintaining the flight routes.
During a business meeting in China two months ago, Mr. Simeoni and the general managers of the other Marco Polo properties pitched their hotels to Chinese travel agents.
“I suggested that instead of flying their clients to Cebu for a few days and then heading to Bohol for the beaches, they could consider an eco-adventure tour in Davao City after spending a few days in Cebu.
“My team and I came up with this plan because the Chinese market is looking for new experiences. In Davao, tourists can visit the eagle sanctuary, Malagos Island, Mt. Apo and Samal Island, among other sites,” Mr. Simeoni said.
He admitted that although enticing tourists to come to Davao may be an uphill battle, the hotel is working with the local arm of the Department of Tourism to market the city as best they can.
Aside from overseeing a tour of Abreeza and some of its more interesting homegrown stores like T’nalak by Maricris Brias which sells world class furnishings using local fabrics and coco shell, the staff of Marco Polo Davao facilitated a day trip to Paradise Island park and beach resort on the Island Garden City of Samal.
PARADISE ISLAND RESORT
For 32 years, the Rodriguez family has been operating the resort, a favorite weekend destination of Davao residents. The resort is just a five-minute boat ride from Km. 9, Sasa, Davao but as soon as you arrive at Paradise Island (www.paradiseislanddavao.com), it’s like the city is miles and miles away.
Owner Julian L. Rodriguez III has a well-maintained property consisting of an 800-meter beachfront where families can picnic as well as 76 spic and span guest cottages. Even the standard rooms outfitted only with an electric fan look nice and cozy although the heat can be worrisome during the summer months.
Unlike other beach resorts that allow guests to karaoke to their hearts’ content, there is a strictly “no karaoke, no loud music” policy at Paradise Island.
“Karaoke is never for the benefit of the listeners. It’s only for the singers’ entertainment and most of the time, they’re terrible singers,” Mr. Rodriguez said. Here is one resort owner other resort owners would do well to emulate.
Back in the city, my companions and I sampled the durian coffee and some of the tasty baked goods at Blugre, the coffee chain that changed hands only last January.
According to her staff, new owner Gloria Cuaresma is determined to grow this Davao brand through franchising and the opening of new branches outside the city.
After traipsing around Davao in what was definitely a whirlwind tour, it was great to come back to Marco Polo and sink into white sheets and soft pillows.
Things are bound to get busier as the days lead up to the Kadayawan. The festival, held every third week of August, is a celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and for blessings received.
Once it gets its tourist numbers up, one can only hope Davao retains some of its inimitable charms.
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