Business Organizations and government agencies here have requested flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) to service the Davao City-Japan route to enhance the flow of people and improve their trade linkages.
Arturo M. Milan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the group spearheading the request, told TIMES yesterday that the route will serve as a key component in enhancing the linkages of the two areas considering that Japanese investors have signified their interests in exploring the city for opportunities.
“We must not wait for them to come; let us come up with key initiatives to attract them,” said Milan even as he noted that there have been sizable inquiries from Japanese investors on the potentials of the city as haven for investments.
The letter was submitted about two weeks ago to Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president, through Victor D. Suarez, airline area head for Mindanao Sales and Services.
Milan noted that Japanese investors have been visiting the city since the assumption of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2016 that even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came here in January last year.
Early this year, a group of Japanese investors also came and the trip was followed by the trip of Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio and other city government officials on a study tour to Japan in April.
Milan said these visits have indicated that there has been a mutual interest from both areas, and to be able to sustain the interest is to come up with key initiatives like a regular air service between them.
In the letter sent to the airline company, business groups and government agencies urged PAL to service the route “in response to increasing (Japanese) tourist arrivals.”
It pointed out that based on the data of the regional office of the Department of Tourism, there were 12,918 Japanese visitors in the first quarter, although the report did not mention the number of Japanese tourists that visited the city during the same period last year.
The Tourism and Infrastructure Enterprise Authority and the city government are developing a master plan for a development and rehabilitation of the ‘Little Tokyo’ in Mintal.
Mintal was known for its sentimental value to the Japanese as many of their ancestors lived there before and during the World War II. During the visit of Mr. Abe, his wife Akie visited the Japanese cemetery in the area.
The letter also pointed out that the “Japanese government and some private organizations have signed joint venture agreements with the local government of Davao on solid waste management, a biodiesel plant and the Mindanao Railway System.”
“This goes to show that they are very much interested not only in visiting the city, but also in doing business here,” it added.
The city government, through the Davao City Investment Promotion Center, also expressed its support to the request.
The agency “welcomes this initiative as recent data shows the viability of the route as evidenced by the number of Filipinos traveling to and living in Japan, as well as Japanese residents who want to travel to Davao City,” said Lemuel G. Ortonio, officer in charge of the center.
Ortonio added: “More importantly, the proposed connectivity between Davao City and Japan will open opportunities in boosting economic growth, facilitating convenient movement of goods and people, and increasing the tourism activities and business exchanges in both destinations.”
Among the 18 signatories to letter were Japanese Consul General to Davao Yoshiaki Miwa and five other Japanese representing the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Mindanao and three companies with Japanese interests.