The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte reported an influx of 350,000 tourist arrivals in the province during the Holy Week, April 1-5.

As this developed, PGIN officials said they expect more than 1.5 million foreign and local tourists to visit the province during this summer season in April and May.

In recent years, it may be noted that the efforts of Governor Imee R. Marcos in promoting Ilocos Norte’s key tourist attractions and vibrant culture through PGIN’s ‘Paoay Kumakaway” tourism campaign have been luring many national and foreign tourists to visit this northern province.

Despite the threat of Typhoon “Chedeng” likely veering towards the North at that time, still a total of 356,443 tourists came to Ilocos Norte and spent their Holy Week vacation in the province, compared to Lent last year’s 271,106.

The Provincial Tourism Office said that tourist arrivals started on Tuesday and peaked on Friday.

Among the sites most visited include the world-renowned Paoay Church, Badoc’s La Virgen Milagrosa Chapel, Nueva Era Cultural Park and the pristine beaches of Saud resort and Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud town.

It may be recalled that the province had 1.5 million tourist arrivals during the summer season last year, a good indicator of the booming tourism industry in the province.

“We are expecting the same number of tourists for this year or possibly exceeds it,” the tourism office said.

Governor Marcos said that the provincial government continued to develop several tourism facilities in key centers in Ilocos Norte and closely cooperate with the private business sector to prioritize quality service.

To cater to the tourists’ needs, some 300 youths have been hired by the provincial government through its ‘Task Force Trabaho’. They now serve as tourists aides, utility personnel and paramedics in 42 tourist centers across the province.

Their hiring was based on personality, not with their college courses, as tourists always look for tourist guides who are conversable.

The hired youths underwent an orientation last March 21 to better prepare them for the demands of the tourism jobs and equip them with basic knowledge on tourism.

Aside from poverty alleviation, the TFT program of Governor Imee was also established to raise the locals’ awareness of the growing tourism industry in Ilocos Norte.

In addition, the Night Express which was launched last March will intensify its operation for the summer season to address the tourists’ demands for transportation.

It offers night trips during Fridays to Sundays, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. to four routes in the province, namely, Laoag-Pagudpud, Laoag-Bacarra, Laoag-Paoay, and Laoag-Dingras.-(J Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)