Improved BIMP-EAGA air connectivity eyed as Davao hosts 3 EAGA air summits

A stronger air connectivity within the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), an economic cooperation among the four regional economies, is expected as Davao hosts three very important summits this year.

“The three events are not big in terms of size but big in terms of the quality of the participants, most of them are decision-makers,” Department of Tourism XI director Art Boncato said.

Boncato said the Asia Air Access Forum will be participated in by regulatory bodies and airline officials who will present their plans for the region, The Airline CEO Summit will be a venue for the Chief Executive Officers of the airlines to meet and discuss the strategies and plans of connecting EAGA. The Air Network Forum will allow players to conduct a business to business interaction.

There will be an exhibit during the three Summits, where free exhibit space will be given to all airlines. The Airline Summit will include Garuda Airlines of Indonesia, Malaysia Airline, MAS Wings, Royal Brunei Airline and the airlines operating in the Philippines including PAL, Cebu Pacific, Zest Airline, Air Philippines and Sea Air.

“We are expecting around 200 participants mostly tourism players and the civil aviation authorities,” Boncato said. Other countries involved in the BIMP-EAGA will also be invited including China, Japan and Australia.

Boncato said the Southern Mindanao’s tourism sector is excited about the vibrant prospects for tourism considering the traditional markets for Davao tourism including the United States, Japan and South Korea. He said there are plans to explore the emerging tourism market in China and Singapore.

“There is a big potential for Davao in China as shown by the result of our trip to Beijing last year where Davao was a featured destination,” he said. They are also confident about Singapore as a tourism market for Davao as two airlines are already flying in and out to Singapore, he added.

He said the region’s tourism sector is serious in its bid to connect Manado and Davao. Boncato said Lion Air of Indonesia previously expressed its interest in coming to Davao and they have already met with DOT and Mindanao Development Authority. However, there was a lull in the talks “so we are seriously following this up.”

“The past year was much better than 2011 tourism-wise,” Boncato said. Davao’s major tourism market is still the MICE market or the Meeting, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibits.

Davao is eyeing the next Ad Congress, with additional 4,000 people that can be accommodated by the new facilities that will be built in the city this year, Boncato said.

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