DAVAO CITY is banking on big sporting events to help achieve the 2.8 million target tourist arrivals for 2019. “We are confident we will surpass the almost 2.4 million tourist arrivals in the city last year considering that we will be hosting very big (sporting) events this year,” City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) Chief Regina D. Tecson said. Among these events are the Davao Athletics Association Meet 2019 on Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, Ironman triathlon on March 24, the Palarong Pambansa 2019 tentatively set in April, and possibly some of the events for the 2019 South East Asian Games in Dec. Ms. Tecson said aside from these sporting events, the city is also set to host other expected crowd-drawers such as the Chinese New Year celebration, the Araw ng Davao in March, and Kadayawan, the grandest annual festival held Aug. “We have also noted a 15% increase in the number of foreign tourists in the city due to the opening of new international routes from Davao,” she said, referring to the direct flights to and from Jinjiang City in China, and Hong Kong. CTOO data shows a steady increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the last three years with 1.7 million in 2016, over 2 million in 2017, and 2.4 million last year. Majority of the visitors are domestic tourists and returning overseas Filipinos. The United States topped the list of international visitors last year with 21,324, followed by Japan, China, Korea, and Australia. The other countries included in the top ten international arrivals were India, Canada, Singapore, United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates. — Carmencita A. Carillo