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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – All hotels in Davao City have been fully booked for the first week of March when thousands of tourists, both foreign and local, begin flocking to the city for its Araw ng Davao celebration, which marks its 86th anniversary.
Davao City Councilor Bernie Al-ag on Wednesday, February 15, urged small inns in the city to reopen and for owners of unused condominium units to offer their properties via the online marketplace Airbnb to address the problem of hotel accommodation shortage.
A popular alternative to traditional hotels and vacation rentals, Airbnb has grown to offer a range of travel-related services, such as experiences and activities hosted by locals in the places travelers visit. It allows people to list, find, and book accommodations for short-term stays, and hosts can use the platform to rent out their unused spaces.
Al-ag said the local government expected at least 50,000 spectators, including visiting foreign and local tourists, to take part in the city’s Charter Day merrymaking.
Even though 95% of tourism establishments in the city have already reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, there is still a shortage of hotel accommodations for big events such as the March 3 Davao Charter Day anniversary.
Jennifer Romero, the head of Davao‘s Tourism Operations Office, said they were expecting a huge influx of tourists coming to the city due to big events scheduled in March.
Aside from the Araw ng Dabaw celebration, the city will also host two big events next month – the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions (MICE) Conference of tourism industry players, and the national convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
In 2022, Davao City registered 897,946 tourist arrivals but this year, Romero said, local officials were expecting at least 1.8 million tourist arrivals.
The city government has also projected 2.5 million visitors in 2024, and another 2.7 million in 2025.
The Araw ng Dabaw celebration will be the city’s first face-to-face celebration of its charter day after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local officials promised to make the March celebration a “most joyous one like no other.”
The celebration will feature the colorful Parada Dabawenyo, Araw ng Dabaw Music and Arts Festival, and the first Artisan Food and Cacao Market which will showcase the products of local cacao farmers, chocolate makers, and coffee brewers.
The celebration will also feature the Search for Reyna Dabawenya 2023 which is open to all self-identified transgender women residing in Davao City.
The celebration will culminate with a 3D drone light show and a grand fireworks display.
Malacañang has declared March 3, 2023, a special non-working holiday in Davao City to mark the celebration of the 86th Araw ng Dabaw.
“It has always been a tradition in Davao to celebrate the oneness of our multicultural city. This is not only to recognize the efforts of those who were instrumental in the city’s creation but more importantly, it is to recognize the Dabawenyos of today who have been doing and are doing their best to create a better future for our city and our people,” read part of the statement released by the city government. –Rappler.com
Ferdinand Zuasola is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.