Tourists start to stream in once again to Ilocos Norte as the province prepares for Holy Week and the summer season, information from the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) revealed.According to Xavier Ruiz of PTO, the surge consists of around 5,000 local and international tourists who came into the province during the previous long weekend alone (February 22 to 25).
Ruiz also added that major hotels in the province are even already at 100% occupancy as of Feb. 22, and the rest reporting 50% and above which is still expected to climb up for the upcoming summer holidays.
The breakdown of arrivals showed an increase in the number of European tourists, particularly Swedish and Russians and in the number of Asian tourists like Indonesians, Japanese and Koreans.
Meanwhile, the domestic movement is due to several Lakbay-Aral activities and corporate functions by various groups across the country such as a recent national convention of Filipino architects which resulted to a total of 400 delegates.
“While the province is handling numerous tourism-related accounts, still the tourist surge is mainly due to free independent travelers who came in individually or in peers or families vacationing with a self-booked itinerary,” Ruiz said.
PTO is now running several preparations for the holidays, marking all Tuesdays starting Feb. 26 until Holy Week to check up on all the tourist facilities in key tourism areas in the province.
“Our office has to constantly gear up because our tourist arrival rate is steadily increasing since 2011, and based on observations alone by our tourist center staffs and the estimates given by the hotels, this month [February] definitely has a higher number of tourist arrivals than February of 2012,” Ruiz added.
Most visited tourist destinations are the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, the Malacañang of the North in Paoay and the newly-refurbished Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Batac City, all reporting record-high revenues for February alone.
Through the active tourism campaign by the Provincial Government, Ilocos Norte is “likely to get the same or even higher number of tourist arrivals” by the end of the summer season just like last year’s 680,000—the province’s highest rise in tourist arrivals so far, Ruiz said.
“This upsurge for the first two months of 2013 alone is something we can really be positive about.”
Ilocos Norte has been a preferred tourist destination for accessibility, rich cultural and historical heritage and diverse activities such as water and sand sports, nature-based adventures, and now with new attractions such as beach parties and special events.
These developments in the tourism industry in the province are seen to contribute to the alleviation of problems in poverty and unemployment as more local jobs will be created to cater to the needs of increasing tourists.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO