Major tourism gab on despite Samal incident

THE ASSOCIATION of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) is set to conduct its four-day 16th National Convention beginning on Thursday in the city, a week after the abduction of three Westerners and a Filipina from nearby Samal Island.
City tourism officer Maria Felisa Marques said yesterday in the weekly Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao Annex that there will be about 1,000 delegates in the national convention that would be conducted at SMX Davao Convention Center.

“This will be the first time that it will be held here,” Marques said.

On Sept. 21, around 11 armed men abducted John Ridsdel, former president of TVI Minerals Processing Inc., geologist Robert Hall and his Filipina partner Maritess Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sakkingstad.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is now in Zamboanga monitoring the operations against the armed group believed to be allied with the Abu Sayyaf, is expected to give a speech during the opening ceremony.

During the convention, there would be also the launching of MICE Davao program in partnership with airline company Air Asia, as tourism industry stakeholders are positioning the city as destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibits.

On Friday, both Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and Clay Epperson, Philippine acting mission director of United States Agency for International Development will tackle about their collaboration in strengthening policy and practice to protect Mt. Apo.

The topic “Greening the Tourism Value Chain: Ensuring Resiliency for a Sustainable Future” will be discussed by Rita Pillarca, senior adviser of Promotion of Green Economic Development.

ATOP will also conduct an awarding ceremony, where they would name the Best Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit, Most Outstanding Tourism Officer, Most Outstanding Tourism Officers Association, Best Practices in Community-based Responsible Tourism, Best Tourism Month/ Week Celebration, Best Tourism Event-Sports/Adventure and Best Tourism Event-Festival.

Davao del Norte provincial tourism officer Noel P. Daquioag said benchmarking tours would be conducted on Saturday. The delegate can choose whether to avail city tour, island tour, agri-cultural industrial tour, plantation tour, adventure tour or World Heritage site tour.

He said the tour at Island Garden City of Samal, for instance, already recorded 200 delegates who booked to avail of the tour, despite the recent kidnapping incident in the island which he considered as an “isolated case.”

“We are presently beefing up security measures,” he said.

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