The city government and the tourism industry players have strengthened partnership to transform Davao as premier destination for Muslims, especially that the Davao–Kuala Lumpur direct connection begins on December 21.
Department of Tourism (DOT) 11 Director Roberto Alabado III said DoT, the city government, and other stakeholders have been working hard to put in place the availability of facilities and services to meet requirements for Muslim tourists.
This move, he said, has been doubled or even tripled now that there is a direct route to Malaysia frequented by Muslim tourists.
Connectivity to a destination is a major factor that will entice tourists to visit the place, he said. And Davao ha the sites of the sun and the beaches where most of these tourists, including the Muslims, can visit and enjoy.
“We are making ourselves ready,” Alabado said.
Alabado bared there are ongoing talks to further meet other requirements to draw more Muslim tourists to Davao.
DOT 11 operations chief Zuhairah Abas said that Air Asia direct flight to KL has kept them working to establish Halal facilities.
But the positive effect on this connectivity, she said is the increasing interests of Malaysian businessmen to invest on the food sector.
“They want to come to invest in food not only on operating a restaurant but as a supplier of food that are already Halal certified,” she said.
Except for the meat, these are foodstuffs not found here, she said.
Abas said there are already initial talks between the Malaysian investors with the Davao City Investment and Promotion Center (DCIPC) on the prospects of investing here.
She revealed that a Filipino company also wants to invest in Halal slaughterhouse in Biao, Tugbok, Calinan district.
The Davao City Halal Council, she said has ongoing discussions with the service sector on how to improve establishments become Halal-compliant.
“The business owners in Davao are excited and showed a positive response to our campaign in making the city as a potential Halal hub,” she said, citing one establishment plan of converting to a Muslim restaurant.
There are also talks with hotels to put a sign inside the room that will spot which direction is facing the Black Stone for Muslims to pray.
Abas said local government units and the Ulamas are also working together to beautify their mosques and the surrounding as these are areas that Muslim tourists would visit, she said.
Abas is positive on the increase of Muslim travelers with the opening of KL direct route. She said AirAsia has a lot of connectivity to the Middle East.
“Muslims travel to places because it is part of their belief to worship and praise the creation of Allah through nature and Davao has a lot of natural wonders that they haven’t experience yet,” she said.
“We need to complement what the airline company has offered by showcasing our destinations to sustain the direct route as this is important in improving our tourists arrivals,” she said.
She said Air Asia’s maiden flight from KL to Davao on December 21 is fully booked as well as its return flight on the same day. The frequency of the flight is four times weekly on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. (DDB/PNA)