The Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) Competitiveness Bureau has declared Davao City as the country’s third Most Competitive City in the country this year under the Highly Urbanized Category. The rank is one notch higher to what the city achieved in last year’s edition of the competitive ranking.
DTI Regional Director Maria Belenda Ambi disclosed that the city got good rankings in four pillars which are on economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure, and resiliency.
That is indeed a laudable performance for a city that was once dubbed as the hotbed of insurgency in Mindanao. And to make it to the top spot for two successive years and being the only one outside of Metro Manila, is indeed an exceptional performance.
We wonder however, if performance in tourism is included among the pillars, and if it is what is the level of performance of the city in that aspect?
Frankly we believe that it is in Davao City as tourist destination that our place is weak. No offense meant, but until now there is not much the city can offer to tourists except for its two yearly festivities, the “Araw ng Dabaw” and the “Kadayawan Festival,” and some commercial orchids farms.
We all know that most tourists, especially the foreign ones, are excited to visit fine beaches that have retained their original beauty or close to it. They also prefer to visit heritage sites, natural wonders, and other amenities that are not common in their places of origin.
All these, unfortunately, the city has none. The beautiful beaches are in other cities and provinces of the Davao Region. Thus, Davao City only serves as arrival and departure area. As for heritage sites, the last one that possibly could qualify primarily because of its housing the Museo Dabawenyo – the old Court of First Instance (CFI) building, has already been demolished to give way to a new City Engineer’s Office building. The last one standing, the old residence of the Dakudao family in Tugbok, has already become a mausoleum, not quite an enticing come-on, especially for local tourists.
Of course we still believe that there are many natural wonders in the city or just within its boundaries with neighboring areas. But there seems to be no decisive efforts to make these beautiful natural sceneries accessible to tourists.
In Sibulan for example, which has a part of it under the jurisdiction of Davao City, there are virtual granite cliffs standing 90 degrees down to rampaging waters of its rivers. Seeing these wonders at a distance, which we have done personally, is one exhilarating experience. For those with the passion for adventure these sites are paradise to behold.
And there are a lot more beautiful natural spots like waterfalls waiting to be discovered in the remaining fastness of Marilog and Paquibato districts. Hopefully their discovery will not take long. What with the government’s crisscrossing these uplands of the city with new roads and concreting existing ones.
Possibly too, what could hasten the development of these inland tourist draws is the total liberation of the areas from the clutches of the communist insurgents.
Once this happens, and if indeed performance in tourism is included as one of the pillars in the competition, then we would not entertain any iota of doubt that Davao City could beat Manila and Quezon City.
Of course the city’s tourism operation office had consistently claimed good performance of the city’s tourism sector. The basis is the 18 percent increase of tourist arrivals in 2019 from its 2018 figure. But should attendees of conventions, meetings, and trade exhibitions be considered tourists? They come here for a specific purpose and many would even leave the city before the activities are completed.
But despite all these, being third in the hierarchy amidst the deficiencies is more than enough performance for our leaders and the local government to deserve every Davaoeno’s accolade. They certainly did their best in bringing the city to its best finish so far.
The private sector, especially business, also played an important role for the city’s achievement. It deserves the people’s congratulations, too.