Monday, October 13, 2014

Tourism a boon to Ilocos Norte's economy

This writer was requested by a Fil-Am investor to secure an endorsement letter from Gov. Imee Marcos to the management of a convenience store chain relative to his application with this company to open and operate one of its franchise stores in Bangui. I submitted the investor's request along with a prepared letter of endorsement for the good governor to sign last Sept. 5, but due to the Marcos Fiesta and typhoon Mario that had preceded, the workaholic governor was only able to see the letter on the 15th. I found this out when after numerous previous calls to the Administration Office without positive results, I went for help on Sept. 16th to the office of Atty. Windell Chua, who could not grant me a personal audience with him—so that I could thoroughly explain the investor's dilemma—but whose amiable and quick-thinking staff was just so kind and professional enough to help me trace the documents to the Investment Office of the Provincial Government. Unfortunately, the governor does not make business endorsements on private-to-private transactions, as per the Investment Office's advice, but she indicated in a note to them that she wanted to know how her office could help him. 

Mr. Eric Pascual, the very personable, intelligent young man at the Investment Office, was so kind and highly accommodating that he sent the investor a letter advice about the potential of investing in Bangui, citing numerous economic factors, chief of which is tourism, to justify his cause with the company. Per Mr. Pascual's advice, Governor Imee is committed to sustain the province's tourism drive "through its sustained Tourism Masterplan."

The Burgos-Bangui-Pagudpud "tourism trail" is Ilocos Norte's pride in eco-tourism, which contributes 12% of the province's growth. During the Lenten season alone in 2012-2014, the Provincial Tourism Office had recorded 600,000 visitors coming to this area. This figure is projected "to grow by at least 10% per year." 

This "tourism trail" prides itself with beautiful beaches, from Kapurpurawan in Burgos to the white beaches in Saud and Malingay in Pagudpud, magnified now by the presence of intimidating views of windmills interspersed along these beaches. Eco-tourism has been a noise in the province's economic plans even before Imee but it seems that nothing had gone that far until this lady governor took over the helm of government. With her perspicacious and resolute foresight for the province, and a dedicated and competent staff like Mr. Pascual in the Investment Office, reason dictates that Ilocos Norte is now on its way to a better life. 

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