Thursday, April 5, 2018

Ilocos Norte gears up to sell new summer destinations

Staff reporter

Laoag City—With the onset of the summer season, the Ilocos Norte government is gearing up to promote new summer destinations here.

According to Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos, nature has gifted the province with natural attractions and there are a lot of unexplored beaches and mountains where tourists may go.

“It’s not official summer yet but the temperature is getting hotter,” said Ms. Marcos citing that they expect more tourists to visit northern Luzon following the partial shutdown of Boracay island.

“We are trying to identify more beaches na pwedeng puntahan at ibenta. We are also considering to promote ‘new Baguio’ like sell the Solsona-Apayao road, the Pasuquin highlands, the Mount Sicapo in Nueva Era and other places,” Ms. Marcos added.

Based on tourism records, foreign and domestic tourists flock to the province during the summer season.

During last year’s Holy Week alone, Ilocos Norte welcomed a total of 472,989 day-visitors. Compared to previous years, tourist arrivals in the province has more than doubled with 232,678 arrivals in 2015.

Among the top 10 tourism destinations include the Bangui windfarm, the UNESCO-world heritage site of San Agustin Church in Paoay, Batac City Empanadaan and Immaculate Concepcion Paris, the Blue Lagoon of Pagudpud, Badoc Gateway, La Virgen Milagrosa Shrine and Chapel in Badoc, Malacañang of the North, Madongan dam of Dingras and the Santa Monica Church of Sarrat.

This year, the Ilocos Norte Tourism office will focus on promoting the eastern part of Ilocos Norte to encourage returning visitors and to sustain the dynamic growth of tourism in Ilocos Norte. 

In the neighboring towns of Solsona and Nueva Era towns, both municipalities in partnership with private investors continue to develop eco-tourism sites as alternative destinations this summer.

Ms. Marcos also expressed her concerns for the impact on ecological tourist attractions despite the obvious economic gains for tourism stakeholders, in particular the beach resorts in the northern town of Pagudpud known for white-sanded shores.

Simula’t sapul alam na nating magiging eco-tourism spot tayo, so we were always aware na we are a destination for mass tourism. We have a fragile environment; yung weight if we have busloads or truckloads of people, hindi natin kaya. Masisira yung sand dunes, masisira ang mga beach, yung mga limestone natin,” she explained.

Kaya naman simula pa lang hindi lang slogan ang ‘clean and green’ pati na rin ang renewable energy sa Ilocos Norte, but rather a real policy. We want very much to offer quality and sustainable tourism to our visitors,” she added.

Noting the cases of environmental sanitation violations in Boracay Island, Aklan Province, Ms. Marcos initiated an inspection by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strengthen ongoing efforts to get local resorts and beachside sites to comply with the province’s environmental codes.

She shared, “Ayaw naman nating magaya sa Boracay na unti-unting nasira at ipinasara na.”

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, along with the governor, also cautioned the Pagudpud government regarding surplus of tourist arrivals in the next few months.

Ms. Marcos thus reinforced her vow to ensure implementation of environmental sanitation and preservation laws, namely the Solid Waste Management Act and the Philippine Clean Water Act, both of which Mr. Cimatu prescribed to Pagudpud officials.

She added that they should also take the same precautions for the Solsona-Apayao Road, a mountain trail bordering the town of Solsona and Apayao province’s town of Calanasan.

The site had recently gone viral on social media, resulting to an increased number of visitors and later reports of littering and unsanitary practices of tourists in the area. (With a report from PGIN-CMO)

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