DAVAO City business and tourism stakeholders flew to Manado, Indonesia last January 4 for an exploratory business mission and stakeholders’ meeting led by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) for a possible revival of air connectivity with the capital city of the province of North Sulawesi.
Tourism is one of the sectors that both sides agree on that can help sustain the return of flights between these two cities in the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)
“Apart from trade, tourism can definitely help spur further growth between these two areas. For Davao, we can offer our visitors from North Sulawesi various tourism programs,” said Davao Tourism Association president Nicole Nina Hao Bian-Ledesma.
She stated education tourism as one of the sectors, as Davao continues to welcome students, including those from other countries (such as India) for its medical programs.
“The Department of Tourism is also promoting dive tourism in the region as well as cultural and festival tourism. We also have very good facilities for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), ” she added.
Ledesma also mentioned the availability of international flights emanating from Davao International Airport.
“We have direct flights to Doha, Qatar. So, instead of flying to Jakarta, which takes about 3.5 hours, they can fly via Davao, which is just about an hour away from Manado,” she said. Doha is a hub for the Middle East and a gateway to European destinations.
Moh. Dino Gobel, tourism and investment consultant of North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey, also agrees that it is high time to reinvigorate the collaboration between Davao and Manado.
“There’s a lot of tourism potential between Davao in Mindanao and Manado in North Sulawesi especially that we have similar offerings in farm, wellness, highland, dive, and culinary tourism,” Gobel said.
He suggested creating tourism circuits for similar activities to serve specific markets.
“We get a lot of Korean tourists for golf, and they usually fly to many countries just to play. We can perhaps create a golf circuit where they can play in both Davao and Manado, where we do not only offer lower green fees but we also have world-class accommodations and exciting post-game activities,” he cited as an example.
Gobel also highlighted Mindanao’s potential for the North Sulawesi market, such in entertainment, nightlife, and gaming.
“We work hard that’s why we also spend a lot for recreation but it consumes a lot of time for us to fly to Jakarta for that. We can fly to Davao instead,” Gobel added.
In exchange, the availability of international flights from Manado can also benefit travelers from Davao. Manado has direct flights to Narita (Japan), and four flights to key cities in China, including Guangzhou.
“We also have direct flights to various Indonesian destinations including Denpasar, Bali,” he quipped.
Leading Edge Air Services Corporation, the aviation arm of ACDI Multi-Purpose Cooperative, is working with MinDA on the possibility of mounting a regular flight between Davao and Manado.
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