Davao City positions itself as ‘bleisure’ site in Mindanao
DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Government tourism officials and industry players are positioning this city to be a destination for business and leisure travelers as over 600 participants gather here for the three-day Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions Conference (MICECon) which kicked off on Wednesday.
The conference is the country’s largest gathering of tourism experts and professionals whose work helps influence the direction of the industry’s development.
Davao has top-class accommodation and other related facilities, as well as leisure sites the nearest of which are the resorts in the famed Island Garden City of Samal.
MICECon 2023 organizers said the city “is a shining example of the country’s ‘bleisure’ destinations with its varied cultural and entertainment offerings for business travelers.”
“Bleisure” is defined as a type of travel that combines business and leisure.
“Davao is home to 11 indigenous tribes and has a rising expat population from varied religious and cultural backgrounds,” MICECon organizers said.
The 11 tribes are highlighted in the celebration of “Kadayawan sa Dabaw,” an annual culture-based festival that is also considered as a thanksgiving for the achievements of the previous year.
First called as “Apo Duwaling” festival (for the main attractions Mt. Apo, durian and waling-waling orchid) during the time of the late Mayor Zafiro Respicio in the late 1980s, the festival has evolved to include the indigenous communities of the city, tribes whose members are either practicing Muslims or non-Muslims.
Organizers said the city is “an ideal bleisure destination as it also continues to grow in its capacity as a MICE destination with more venues and accommodations for conventions as well as professionals who show the Philippines’ best quality of hospitality, diversity, peace and stability.”
From a target of 500, the MICECon attracted 617 participants, said Jennifer Romero, officer in charge of the Davao City Tourism Operations Office.
Some of the delegates are from foreign countries as event participants are attending it “to learn about the different global trends on business meetings, witness the beautiful scenery of the premier city of the South, and invite them for networking opportunities with both the local and international MICE experts,” according to Romero.
Maria Margarita Nograles, Tourism Promotions Board chief operations officer, said MICECon organizers had committed to provide participants “access to the best and most relevant information that will help upskill their teams and revisit our world-renowned Filipino standard of service as we cater to a new and better normal in the tourism sector.”
The MICECon’s holding coincides with the 86th founding anniversary of the city, Mindanao’s leading urban center, in which crowd-drawing events are lined up until March 18, to be followed by the city’s hosting of Ironman 70.3 from March 23 to March 26.
The anniversary events will be capped by a drone light show, in lieu of a fireworks display which is banned in the city, said Romero.
Within the anniversary festivity, the city will be hosting a number of conventions, such as by the league of prosecutors and the country’s association of shippers.
Romero said tourist arrivals were already strong at the start of the year with close to 80,000 in January. They target from 150,000 to 200,000 for March given the lineup of events.
The local government has exerted effort to regain the level of tourist arrivals into the city prior to the pandemic in 2020. Local tourism industry leaders are confident the city will be among the destinations that will reap from “revenge tourism.”
Pia Lourdes Montano, founding chair of the Davao Mega Travel Sale group and an officer of the Davao Travel Agencies Association, noted that air travel to popular destinations, the city included, has been picking up since the time the health restrictions were relaxed.