By Ace June Rell S. Perez
Increased awareness and availability of Halal-compliant tourism products and services are needed to sustain the recently-launched direct flight between Davao City and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. AirAsia Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer for Digital, Transformation and Corporate Services Aireen Omar said in her speech Thursday, February 1 during the DVO-KL Officiating Ceremony at Marco Polo Hotel – Davao that cooperation among the government and tourism players plays vital in maintaining traffic in the route. The DVO-KL AirAsia flight was launched last December 21 and is now operating with four times weekly. “We appreciate Philippine’s push for increase awareness and availability of Halal-compliant products and services. As we continue to increase connectivity between the communities of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), it is important that the needs for tourism around this region are also met,” she said adding that halal tourism is huge in the Asean market. On improved and vibrant Halal tourism, Omar cited Japan for its successful implementation of programs for halal-compliant tourism emphasizing that it can be done in Asean, especially Philippines.
“We can do the same in Asean and I think Mindanao has a lot to offer in this part of the region (Asean) to draw in more tourists from across our 634-million-people-strong Asean,” she said. AirAsia, she said, is committed to make the new international flight a success and enable Davao as a gateway hub in Southern Philippines for Asean and beyond. “We are optimistic that Davao will do very well as a destination and we look forward to work hand in hand with Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the national government and other tourism bodies to grow Davao further,” she added.
The DVO-KL route, Omar shared, has been doing fine in terms of load factor maintaining an average of 80 percent load, over a month after its inaugural flight. Duterte-Carpio, for her part said, that the city will do its part to show and prove to the investors that Davao is a good investment and tourism destination. “First, we need to let the people know, especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that there is an existing flight. Second, we need to prepare the city for the type of tourists that will come from Malaysia,” the mayor said. Duterte-Carpio added that they are presently getting the guidelines for the implementation of Halal Law (Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016), we have been pushing for Department of Trade and Industry and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos particularly for the guidelines of the local implementation. “We are preparing the city for the hotel accommodation, our dining options, our sites, our accessibility and mobility of the city,” she said.
Preparations and efforts to promote Davao The regional office of the Department of Tourism is presently in talks with Davao restaurants and hotels urging these establishments to be, if not Halal-certified, at least Muslim-friendly. To further promote investment and tourism of the city, the Davao City Investment and Promotions Center (DCIPC) and the City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) are set to have international missions and local roadshows in the pipeline for the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter this year. DCIPC head Lemuel Ortonio said they initially plan to pattern their future visits to Malaysia and Singapore after their Japan investment and tourism roadshow October of last year wherein the Dabawenyo delegates were able to sit down in a business forum with the country’s investment and tourism representatives to discuss and provide information about Davao City.
Ortonio said the roadshow to Malaysia and Singapore is targeted on the 3rd quarter of 2018 and will be part of the support for the two international direct flights that Davao City has in order help sustain the said flights. Duterte-Carpio said the city’s focus countries, apart from Malaysia and Singapore, are Japan, Korea and China. Air connectivity With various direct flights launched, both local and international, Davao is building to become an international gateway in the southern Philippines.
Omar said the international flights will open the city to extensive network of destinations in Asean, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and the US. “We are committed to growing tourism beyond the most famous tourism hotspots. By improving connectivity in secondary cities, we help to spur development beyond the capital, we hope that our international flights to Mindanao bring in economic contributions in terms of tourism receipts, creation of jobs, and opportunities for SMEs and marginalized communities,” she said. The direct flight is one of the positive results gained from the Phnom Penh, Cambodia visit of President Rodrigo Duterte last December 2016 where in the President and Fernandes had investment talks.
(Courtesy: SunStar Philippines)