Ilocos Norte puts up tourist help centers for Lent, summer

LAOAG CITY, March 21 (PIA) — The provincial government has started putting up tourist assistance stands in preparation for the droves of tourists that will visit during the Lenten break and throughout summer.

Christian Espiritu, of the provincial tourism office, said the tourist stands will be housed in native huts placed along national roads where these will easily be accessed by motorists. These will be fully operational beginning March 22.

“The huts are already installed in various towns. Volunteers will begin manning those huts this weekend (ahead of the Lenten break next week),” he said.

Ilocos Norte’s 21 towns including the cities of Laoag and Batac will have their own tourist assistance stands manned by over 100 tour guide-volunteers and first-aid providers.

The provincial government expects to match if not outdo last year’s record tourism entry which reached 680,000 during the summer vacation alone.

The province attributed the tourist spike to its tourism brand “Paoay Kumakaway” (Paoay beckons) launched as a pre-summer campaign pitch in 2011.

PTO records show a steady stream of local and foreign tourists beginning February.

In a PTO report, at least 5,000 local and international tourists visited the province during last month’s long weekend alone from February 22 to 25.

Tourists who entered Ilocos Norte include European (Sweden and Russia) and Asia nationals (Indonesians, Japanese, and Koreans), the report added.

Meanwhile, the province continues to attract Lakbay-Aral (field trip) groups and corporate functions which make use of the provincial government-owned Plaza del Norte hotel for MICE or meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibits making tourism activities year-round.

Xavier Ruiz, also a Capitol tourism staff, said the tourist spike comes from the sector of independent travelers who arrive individually or in groups who book themselves on their own.

The PTO has been making the round of tourist facilities in key areas to ensure smooth service for motorists.

Permanent tourist structures have been put up in the towns of Badoc (the entry point to Ilocos Norte coming from the South) and Burgos (the home of the famous Kapurpurawan Rocks or white rock formation) which offer restrooms, coffee shops, and souvenir booths.

Visible road signages and directions were also installed for easier road navigation for first-time tourists. (Cherry Joy S. Discaya)