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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Batac: High tourist arrivals in Ilocos Norte during Holy Week sparks hope for continued recovery

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The increase in tourist arrivals and bookings over Holy Week has raised optimism that the local tourism industry in Ilocos Norte will continue to help thousands of Ilokanos to regain their livelihoods and create more employment opportunities.

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The return of pre-pandemic tourist arrivals in Ilocos Norte has benefitted local stakeholders with accommodation facilities being fully booked over the long weekend and thousands flocking to pilgrimage sites and other key destinations in the province.

According to accommodation reports and travel registration at triages, Ilocos Norte recorded more than 14,000 inbound arrivals.

Mr. Xavier Ruiz, Senior Tourism Operations Officer, said that the weekend leading up to Holy Week had the highest number of tourists, peaking on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, with domestic travelers accounting for the majority of inbound visits.

He continued that when hotels and accommodations in well-known destinations, such as Pagudpud and Laoag City, were fully booked, customers explore alternatives in nearby locations. This helped adjacent towns in booking guests and generating revenue as well.

Ms. Nelly Cristobal, owner of the Casa Victoria Resort and Restaurant in Pagudpud, described the Holy Week as lively and bustling as the pre-pandemic operations, saying:

“We are fully booked from April 8 until April 18. Nakaka-excite kasi sobrang daming tao and we cannot even accommodate walk-ins already. From seven in the morning until closing time, marami pa rin ang nagi-inquire. It never stops. So in preparation for the long weekend, I hired part-time workers to help our 30 regular staff pero hindi pa rin enough kasi maraming guests. This is the first time I have ever seen such large number of tourists. I’ve also heard that all of the homestays and hotel-resorts in Bangui are fully booked na.

It is a relief that things are getting back to normal. You can see everyone smiling and happy in Pagudpud, including tricycle drivers, local tour guides, and small business owners. Yung ngiting makakabangon na rin po kaming lahat sa wakas,” she added.

With the increase in travel freedom due to eased inter-zonal movements, Ilocos Norte continues to work in sustaining its gains in the local tourism recovery.

Since thousands of Ilokanos rely on tourism for a living, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc has been initiating recovery measures for the pandemic-affected sector, saying, “Let us make sure that we prioritize the people behind this industry and make sure they are the ones who benefit the most.”

Among the significant measures taken by the Provincial Government to jumpstart its tourism sector are the following: Ilocos Norte was one of the first destinations in the Philippines to reopen through the pioneer Ridge and Reef Tourism Corridor partnership between Region I provinces and Baguio City. It was also one of the first provinces to rollout vaccination in the tourism sector, with 100% of active tourism workers now fully immunized, established tourists’ triage, and conducting regular hotel inspections.

More importantly, Ilocos Norte is the first and only province in the Philippines to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travels Stamp for its adoption of globally recognized health and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cita Macalipis)

(Source: Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte)

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