6% increase in Holy Week tourist arrivals noted

Ilocos Norte has recorded a total of 472,989 visitors last Holy Week, April 10-16, posting a 6% increase compared to the same period last year’s 444,980.

The 2017 figure also shows a 103% increase in two years, with 232,678 arrivals recorded in 2015.

Categorized as people who visited the Ilocos Norte’s tourist attractions but did not stay overnight, “day visitors” are recorded by provincial tourism personnel deployed in 42 sites.

Top 10 destinations were the Bangui Windfarm with 119,840 visitors; the San Agustin Church of Paoay with 54,015; the Batac City Empanadaan and Immaculate Concepciion Parish with 42,035; the Blue Lagoon Resort in Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud, with 30,048; the Paseo de Paoay with 29,106; the Badoc Gateway with 24,289; the La Virgen Milagrosa Shrine and Chapel in Badoc with 18,873; the Malacañang of the North with 16,483; Dingras town’s Madongan Dam with 15,407; and the Sta. Monica Church of Sarrat with 14,679.

Based on these figures, tourists flocked towards the southern tourism trail (e.g. Paoay, Batac City, and Badoc) of Ilocos Norte, contrasting with the popularity of the northern trail (e.g. Bangui and Pagudpud) last year.

The increase in visitors may be attributed to the docking of a cruise ship on the Currimao Port on Good Friday, April 14, which brought volumes of domestic and foreign tourists to the province.

“It was a busy week for Ilocos Norte, but we were able to cope. We anticipated the volume of people who arrived, and we were told in advance how establishments were fully-booked for Holy Week,” shared Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) Ianree Raquel.

INTO had deployed tourist aides and first-aid personnel throughout the province’s attractions, with over 300 trained locals assisting the visitors.

Tourist aides included senior citizens and retirees assigned as museum guides, a new element to the INTO’s summer tourism program for locals.

“We also took it very seriously to work together with other stakeholders, lalo na’t we knew that this year would be much busier,” said Raquel, adding that along with tourists, they also anticipated waves of balikbayans or vacationing Ilocanos from overseas.

The province reached the 2-million mark of day visitor arrivals in 2016, receiving 2,031,884 for the entire year compared to 259,148 in 2012.

With regular features on local and international television, and aggressive campaigning to both potential investors and tourists, Governor Imee R. Marcos believes that “Today, we see the biggest growth in our tourism sector, very dynamic and still growing.

“In Ilocos Norte, like a famous retail chain jingle, ‘We’ve got it all for you–nature, heritage, adventure, food, and shopping.”(Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO)