Davao tourism gears up for RA 9593

Stakeholders in the tourism industry joined the orientation and consultation forum about the implementation of the Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009 last Friday and Saturday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel. Fifty participants have attended from hotels, resorts, travel agencies and tour guides.
Source: Sun•Star Davao

We do have tourist attractions in Davao City (and in other parts of the Davao Region) that are worth promoting. We have various festivals and activities to offer our visitors. We have fine hotels and excellent restaurants. We have travel agencies and tour operators whose services are at par with their Manila counterparts’. And Davao has several advantages over other destinations.

But what of the disadvantages? In our eagerness to promote our city and our region, we often fail to look inward and, thus, neglect to see the things that need improvement.

Traveling to some cities in Europe late last year, I was much impressed by the tourist services available to visitors. In Rotterdam, The Netherlands, there’s an office that’s clearly visible to arriving train passengers, and I was able to get a map of the city there — for free. The man behind the desk was very helpful in pointing out the points of interest in that western Dutch city, and gave some suggestions on what to do given my limited time in the area.

In Budapest, Hungary, a policeman I approached for directions back to my hotel also apprised me of the various museums and other interesting leisure spots on both sides of the Danube.

Closer to home, in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, tourists are regaled with a wealth of information to help ensure a satisfying stay in these well-regarded destinations. You get a feeling that there’s concerted effort to take care of tourists behind the tourist assistance counter, at the airport information center, even in public parks. You get this feeling because the people involved in tourism-related agencies (whether public or private) seem to be well-trained and well-informed.

Department of TourismThe Department of Tourism (DoT) has been undertaking a series of consultation sessions across the country to inform hotels, travel agencies and other tourism stakeholders of the Implementing Rules & Regulations of the Tourism Act of 2009 (or Republic Act No. 9593, embedded below). In Davao, the consultation sessions happened yesterday, attended by various businesses and organizations. (Fifty tourism-related establishments out of hundreds, though, isn’t a very encouraging turnout.)

I hope that, beyond the implementation of bureaucratic measures as laid out in RA 9593, such as new forms of required accreditation, the Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) would adopt a holistic approach to tourism promotions, as well as to actual tourism operations. I believe that, for tourism in Davao to become more viable and vibrant, everyone must be in on the game.

OK, let’s have something concrete, so that I don’t sound like a pedant here. I used to work for Casa Leticia as its front office manager (among other things). We were very serious — as I’m sure they are still very much so — about our motto: “Where you matter most.” We did everything to make sure that our guests were satisfied with our facilities and services, so that we could reasonably expect return business from them.

One day, one of my newer receptionists was surprised when I asked the hotel driver to bring a group of visitors to another hotel. My reasons for doing that: first, we were fully booked; second, the guests were loyal patrons who, unfortunately, arrived without a reservation; third, and most importantly, the net effect of my action would show our visitors that they did matter a lot to us, and it would leave an overall good impression not only of our hotel but of Davao City. (The guests appreciated the gesture so much that we didn’t lose them at all — on succeeding trips to Davao, they always checked in with us.)

That example is, admittedly, a very small thing. But imagine a whole bunch of small things that, taken together, would add up to something much bigger than their sum. Especially if all those little actions were tied together by a single motivation, an overarching goal, then surely Davao would experience a boom in tourism arrivals.

We need a citywide consciousness of the importance of tourism, and the responsibility that that entails. To do that, we need a rallying point, a battle cry, or whatever it is that would bring everyone under a unified purpose.

With fresh, young blood in leadership roles in the tourism industry today, I am confident that there is only one way for us to go, and that’s UP. At the helm of DoT Region 11 (covering Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley) is Arturo Boncato, Jr. In spite of his youth, Boncato is an industry veteran, having been the director of sales & marketing of The Marco Polo Hotel for several years. And before that, he was the brains — and oftentimes the brawn as well — behind the first professional events organizing firm in the city.

For the city, the CTOO is now under the direction of Jason C. Magnaye, who brings to the local government years of invaluable experience in the business sector. Magnaye was the executive director of the highly-acclaimed Davao City Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Also, he is concurrently the head of the Davao City Investment Promotions Center.

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5 Responses to “Davao tourism gears up for RA 9593”

  1. Nonoy says:

    I totally agree about helping travelers in Davao not just for business sake but in all aspects of hospitality or service in order to make them feel comfortable about the city. This makes a lasting impression on what they have to say about Davao City. happy

  2. Jason M says:

    Thanks for the blog bai. Very good insights Blog. You hit the nail right on the head. That's precisely the direction that we are taking. Good thing also that my counterpart in the DOT Region is aligned with our local program. Would be great if we can have coffee one of these days and talk about our programs lined up for the year as well as your inputs. Best regards Blogs.

    • Blogie says:

      Hey Jason! Yes, we should meet soon. I've been meaning to talk to you, actually. I'll email you so we can set a schedule.

  3. Hi please help to promote our beloved places in Davao, specially digos city. I’m writing this Blog to Promote my Beloved Digos City to show and to shout in the window of world that their is a city in the Philippines that have a great tourist spots like hotels, shopping malls, beaches, restaurants, Ziplines and etc….

  4. Robert says:

    I totally agree with you bai. I hope the tourism business and activity in our country (especially to our Davao City) will become similar to those in Europe (I have been there twice) and to our neighbouring Thailand and Malaysia. Their tourism sector is so vibrant.
    I love travelling and halos nalibot ko na ang Pilipinas pero di ko pa rin ipagpapalit ang aking Davao City. I was born and raised in Davao. Now I am based in Manila for the last 7 years.
    Hope to talk with you guys with a cup of coffee.

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