THE recent diplomatic squabble between the Philippines and China over ownership of the Spratly Islands and other areas in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) is not affecting the growth of Chinese tourism market.
Mary Ann Montemayor, chair of the Davao Regional Tourism Council, said that despite the Spratlys incident, Chinese tourists are growing at an unprecedented rate.
Department of Tourism figures show that tourist arrivals from China grew 18.54 percent from the period January to April 2011.
In the Davao Region, Chinese tourists rank number third among Asian markets, next to Japan and South Korea.
“Tourism is non-political,” Montemayor said, adding tourists won’t be swayed by political issues like territorial disputes.
Montemayor was with members of the team composed of the Davao Regional Tourism Council, Department of Tourism and other private partners in Beijing during the launch of the Davao Cultural Festival, dubbed as “From Highlands to Island” held last June 11.
The festival in the Chinese capital signified the push to promote Davao as an alternative ecotourism, extreme adventure and culinary destination among the growing Chinese market particularly to Beijing tourists.
Montemayor, in her report at Club 888’s media forum Wednesday, said the festival was a huge success.
One particular aspect was the culinary festival held at the Marco Polo Parkside Hotel with Chef Gene Gonzales and a crack team of Filipino chefs whipping out Filipino particularly Dabawenyo dishes.
The cuisine merited media attention as CCTV the Chinese national television network devoted an eight-minute feature about the culinary event.
Montemayor added that Davao will be the focus of the upcoming Beijing subway billboard campaign where photos featuring famous tourism attractions will be posted on Beijing subways. Also Davao is now being considered as a honeymoon and wedding destination for Chinese romantic travelers.