I was just talking with a close friend who hasnt been to Davao City. I was enticing him to visit our city when he threw this query to me “What does Davao have that he cant find in other cities”?
I have talked about our beaches, our festivals, ziplines, fruits, mountains, resorts, parks and farms, culture, diving sites, city scenes, malls, bars and bistros, and the like. But come to think of it, these are the same tourist destinations being offered by other cities in the country (plus the fact that it will cost less for travelers from Manila to reach these cities than Davao).
And it makes me wonder, what do we really have that’s eccentric and that we can offer to the rest of the country and even the world?
Ziplines? Well, most of the cities now are setting up their own facilities. And i’m not sure but I heard somewhere that our zipline is no longer the longest and fastest in Asia. Correct me if im wrong but the same operator is also currently constructing (if not completed) a longer zipline facility somewhere in the north.
Beaches? well it will cost lesser for people from Luzon to visit the Visayas area or even white sand beaches in some Luzon provinces.
Culture and Festivals? Well, for just an average traveler, our Kadayawan Festival would look similar to other photocopied festivals in Mindanao. And I admit, for back packers, they would really have a challenge unraveling our so called “culture of the indigenous people” if they’ll visit the city during ordinary days. I believe we have cultural villages right? are these open everyday? Can someone just walk right through and roam around the park or village.
Philippine Eagle? May Phil Eagles na rin sa ibang provincial zoos (although iisa or dalawa lang eagles nila) but atleast people will not pay that much just to see an eagle.
Crocodile Park? Well kahit dito sa Metro Manila, may Crocodile Park na rin sa Star City thanks to our very own Davao Crocodile Park who decided to open up shows here in Manila.
Chinatown? Why go to Davao’s when there’s a chinatown in Metro Manila? Smaller but yet more vibrant (i guess, satin kc majority ng nasa chinatown are hardware stores )
So this is just my suggestion, maybe our city tourism council can also capitalize on our history as a city? (on top of the other areas which we are promoting – and by the way our city’s tourism council should be commended by its efforts).
Throughout the country, the city’s known for its “discipline”, economic and sustainable growth (inspite of the lack of assistance from the national government) and our ironfist mayor who managed to convert a so called chaotic city in the 80s to one of the organized (if not the most organized) cities in South East Asia today. Most of the people are so into the before and after scenarios Maybe we can also promote that. Do we already have some tours packages that promote the history of the city? Like how the city was like in the 1800s, in the early 1900s, in the 70’s and today? Building our city museum was really great, but is our tourism office strongly promoting it? Do we have historical landmarks? Are they being taken care of? Are these being promoted to our tourists? Are the locales and tourists aware of the stories behind these landmarks?
I havent been traveling that much lately but these are what Ive noticed with the cities ive been to before. Singapore is known for its Sentosa, commercial districts, shopping destinations, etc. When we went there few years back, the tourguide was so enthusiastic telling us what Singapore was before and how they managed to be like what it is today. And I believe we even went to this remarkable museum (i forgot the name) with mannequins on display depicting the history of the island. In HongKong, they also have numerous exhibits that highlight the history of the city and its people. And even here in the Philippines, Cebu – considered as one of the top destinations of the country, included in their packages are visits to historical sites such as Magellan Cross, For San Pedro, Sto Nino Church, etc – and tourists are being briefed of what’s the stories behind these landmarks.
I know we have included some historical sites in our promotions and even in some tourism websites but I think it isnt that much. I guess we should let the people and tourists know what’s the stories behind San Pedro Street, or our very own city hall, the old San Pedro church, the Japanese Obelisk in Mintal, Bankerohan area, and our old buildings (if there are still some which are existing) in Davao City.
Just my two cents.