ASEAN to boost tourism industry in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY, January 11 (PIA) – The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) is expecting a huge influx of tourists in the province as the country is set to host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017.

PGIN reports said that about 700,000 Chinese tourists are set to visit Ilocos Norte wherein half of them or 350,000 will pass through the Laoag International Airport (LIA).

Governor Imee R. Marcos said the expected influx of tourists is incidental to the China’s “visit ASEAN year” this year.

LIA Manager Ronald Estabillo said the airport is preparing for the arrival of the tourists being the frontline agency to the event.

“We are ready in case there are additional flights, security wise we are prepared,” said Estabillo.

The LIA has undergone a major facelift in the past improving its facilities to provide better services including a high speed Wi-Fi connections.

“Coordination with various agencies is ongoing to ensure a glitch-free planning of flights in case of the arrivals of the tourist,” Estabillo added.

Part of the ASEAN hosting, Ilocos Norte is one of the identified venues of the event which will take place at the Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort.

Marcos has recently met with the hotel owners and restaurants in the province to induce preparation. The governor is also doing efforts to encourage developers and contractors in Metro Manila for possible expansion of their businesses in Ilocos Norte.

The Philippines assumes chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 that coincides with its 50th year anniversary with the theme:  “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte recorded an increasing arrival of tourists here in the last four years which include Asian, European, and American aside from domestic tourists.

In 2016 alone, more than 400,000 day tourists spent their Holy Week in Ilocos Norte, topping the 232,678 recorded in 2015, according to Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO). Tourism Officer Aianree Raquel said that the surge of tourists during the holidays meant a 91.24 percent increase compared to 2015. (Cherry Joy Discaya-Garma,PIA-1-Ilocos Norte)