THE tourism industry in Davao City believes that it will be a “merrier Christmas” following the lifting of some restrictions in the city, particularly the 24-hour liquor ban and curfew.
Davao Tourism Association (Data) President Gatchi Gatchalian said during the Davao Pasko Fiesta 2021 virtual media launch on Wednesday, November 3, that the recent lifting of some of the Covid-19 restrictions will benefit the tourism industry, one of the badly affected industries in the time of the pandemic, as people can now go out and travel for leisure.
“This would have a definite effect on the celebration of the Davao Pasko Fiesta and even the way we celebrate Christmas here in the city, which I believe will be happier and merrier,” Gatchalian said.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lifted the 24-hour liquor ban and the 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew on October 26, while the mayor lifted the mandatory barrier on motorcycles and public utility vehicles (PUVs), and made the wearing of face shields in enclosed spaces voluntary in the 3Cs settings — crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces — on Monday, November 2.
The lifting of the restrictions comes as the city continues to experience a downtrend of active cases brought about by a large number of vaccinated individuals.
Gatchalian, however, said they will continue to do their share in ensuring that tourism establishments will not cause the spread of the virus.
“We will have to live with Covid, and be cautious since Covid is still there and things can still be bad,” he said.
City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) Head Generose Tecson also said the city is taking advantage of the downtrend to spur economic activity in the city to recover from its losses incurred during the pandemic.
However, Tecson said there is no room for complacency since Christmas activities in 2020 became a superspreader event, causing a spike in active cases during the first quarter of this year.
She advised the public to be “responsible and disciplined” in continuously abiding by the minimum health protocols and, if possible, avoid mass gatherings.
“We are also hoping that people would be careful na (that) they will be responsible enough to follow the minimum public health standards. Sila na din mag gauge kung comfortable sila or hindi in places na merong crowd. Hindi naman natin maano na andito pa rin ang Covid-19 (They will also gauge if they are comfortable or not in crowded places because we cannot deny that the Covid-19 is still around us),” Tecson said.
Long weekend assessment
Gatchalian noted an influx of tourists during the long weekend of October 29 to November 1 as many Dabawenyos went to hotels, restaurants and resorts, with some attending Halloween parties.
Although prior to the long weekend, the Data president also noted a gradual influx of tourists in the city.
As the Christmas season is fast approaching, Gatchalian said they are eyeing to open staycation packages in hotels and other accommodations to anticipate the possible influx of tourists.
He also hoped that the city would downgrade from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.
Tecson, meanwhile, noted the arrival of many direct international flights from Dubai.
She said their office had also been receiving inquiries from tourists, asking if the city will now be allowing their entry.
“Yes we will allow tourists since it is intrazonal travel na,” she said.
She urged them to book establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism to help those legally operating.
The City Government of Davao formally launched the annual Pasko Fiesta, dubbed as “Davao PaskOnline Fiesta,” wherein activities will be made online due to the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several online activities were launched, which centered on the essence of family in the time of Christmas. Contests were also launched wherein cash prizes awaited the lucky participants.
Food markets and bazaars will also be part of the annual Christmas event to help the business sector recover.
The annual Torotot Festival will also be revived, but will still be done virtually.
Tecson said a tree-lighting activity will be officiated and will be led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on November 19. It is still uncertain if this would be open to the public to avoid mass gatherings.
Compared to previous years, the tourism official said Christmas displays in the city will be simple to avoid mass gatherings.