The last time I visited Davao was when Marco Polo Davao had a grand celebration of its 20th anniversary in 2018. The country’s “who’s who” were there in full force and it was quite a memorable evening for me as I had the pleasure of hobnobbing with several government officials including then President Rodrigo Duterte. Sadly, the hotel had to close down mid-year of 2020, a victim of the nasty virus which wreaked havoc on our tourism industry.
This time, I was in the city as part of the delegation from the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) that conducted its annual consultative meeting with tourism stakeholders in Mindanao. Most of us, Board of Trustees, joined the event to see how we could help our colleagues from that area get back on their feet again, after the devastation on our Industry caused by the pandemic.
We were all billeted at the conveniently located 202-room Park Inn by Radisson Davao which is attached by a bridgeway to the gigantic SM Mall, one reason why its occupancy is always high. We had a chance to have a leisurely chat with the hotel’s General Manager Sven Toune, a Belgian national who speaks fluent Tagalog and Bisaya, and being married to a Cebuana. He shared with us the hotel’s development plans. In fact, a renovation on one part of the hotel was ongoing, to be able to offer more products and services to its loyal clients.
We also met the hotel’s Director of Sales Liza Gamo, a bubbly livewire who also speaks Bisaya, who is a perfect fit for her job, as she is natural magnet for interesting chit-chats. I found out that local residents and foreign guests rave over the hotel’s signature dishes—the Muscovado Sriracha Wings, the Chef’s Mixed Grill Platter, and the classic Blue Marlin steak, grilled Filipino style. I promised Liza I, definitely, will find a way to return and sample all these delectable culinary masterpieces. Food is always a good reason to visit any place.
The Consultative Meeting, ably presided over by TCP President Jojo Clemente, was attended by 65 tourism professionals from all over Mindanao. We were lucky to have been joined by Department of Tourism (DOT) Region XI Director Tanya Rabat-Tan. She helped us shed light on the participants on matters involving government’s assistance to whatever challenges they may be facing as a result of the pandemic. Clemente made sure that all the issues, concerns, and recommendations, big and small, brought forward by the attendees were all handled, giving them the assurance that the TCP can always be depended upon to help its members and the tourism industry in general.
DOT Regional Directors Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez of Region IX and Nelia Arina of Region XIII sent in their videotaped messages and presentations for the attendees. It was also our honor and pleasure to have been joined by a tourism industry icon of Davao, Mary Ann “Baby” Montemayor, mother of newly appointed Tourism Promotions Board COO Marga Nograles. She is now running and taking over from her daughter the projects and programs of Kaayo, a fashion and home accessories business that highlights the work of Indigenous Peoples (IPs). This definitely worthy endeavor promotes the products of the different tribes in Mindanao and makes sure that future generations will continue to appreciate the tradition, heritage, and culture of The Promised Land that is Mindanao.
Another VIP who joined our Meeting was PAL Senior Assistant Vice-President Harry Inoferio, a true-blue Cebuano like me, who made a very special announcement, much to the delight of the audience. Starting December 9 this year, the airline will reintroduce direct flights between Cebu City and Bangkok, which means that passengers from Mindanao can now travel on PAL to and from Bangkok, with convenient connections in Cebu City.
PAL will operate the 199-seater Airbus A321ceo aircraft twice weekly (every Monday and Friday) on this route, with well-timed morning departures from Cebu City and early afternoon departures from Bangkok. This is now the second Asian city served by the airline directly from Cebu City. PAL also flies to Tokyo’s Narita airport directly from Cebu.
With everything that took place during our Davao visit, I have to say it was worth the hassle of having to wake up at midnight just to catch our early morning flight and going through the arrival courtesies half-awake, half-asleep. True to form, we at TCP will always find the energy to do what needs to be done to keep our Tourism Industry strong and vibrant. We had a great time in Davao, a fulfilling weekend, indeed.
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE:
SIGN AT CHURCH CAR PARK: FOR MEMBERS ONLY. Trespassers will be baptized.
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