LAOAG CITY, Jan. 14 (PIA) — Ilocos Norte expects a boost in the tourism industry this year as more tourists continue to flock in the province even after the Christmas season.

According to Gov. Imee Marcos, tourism industry in Ilocos Norte is expected to have an additional lift this year as the province is expected to have Russia as a potential additional market for tourism.

“We have a Russian delegation trying to open the way for Russian tourism which is a very wealthy and long-term one,” Marcos said.

The governor, however, did not say specifically when this Russian tourism delegation will arrive, but she said the delegation will be composed of 10 persons.

“Maganda na makapunta dito ang mga Russians kasi that’s a very rich market, ika nga maraming milyonaryo’t bilyonaryong Ruso. Malaking bagay kung madiscover nila ang Ilocos Norte,” said Marcos.

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), Korea continues to be the top market for tourism in the country with 922,083 arrivals in 2012. Second is the United States with 586,965 arrivals and third is Japan with 375,248 arrivals last year.

Russia is in the top 20 spot in the DOT’s list of top markets for tourism for 2012 with tourist arrivals from the said country recording a 43 percent increase from 16,623 in 2011 to 23,756 in 2012.

With the launching of Paoay Kumakaway campaign last year in local and international markets, the province of Ilocos Norte has been having an increase in tourist arrivals.

According to the provincial tourism office, Ilocos Norte has had even more tourists over the Christmas season than what the province had over summer of last year. Last summer, the province recorded a total of 680,000 tourist arrivals.

The provincial government is hopeful that with these developments in the tourism industry, problems of poverty and unemployment in the province will gradually be eliminated as more local jobs will be created to cater the needs of increasing tourists. (Ariel Paolo Tejada)