LAOAG CITY: Ilocos Norte welcomed an estimated 1.6 million local and foreign tourists this year, the local tourism office said.
During the Christmas holiday break, in particular, hotels and home-stay owners reported that they were fully booked while restaurants and fast food chains ran out of food supplies, the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) claimed.
The summer season from April to May delivered the highest number of arrivals at 878,258, the INTO said.
Governor Imee Marcos said “tourism has grown to a stunning 380. 64 percent in the past two years with more than 1.3 million day visitors from January to July 2015 only.”
An overwhelming number of tourists also visited the province last month during the long weekend in Metro Manila due to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting.
Through the “Paoay Kumakaway” launched in 2012, efforts of the provincial government translated to more jobs for the locals, especially those in the service sector.
According to Marcos, the tourism industry has been a “real job starter”, which has resulted to “inclusive growth” in the province.
Last month, the province also opened three museums: the Burgos Lighthouse Museum, Balay Dingras and the Taoid Museum.
The upsurge in the tourism arrivals ollowed the development of more tourism infrastructure and facilities, with hotel room and inn capacity growing from 1,700 in 2012 to a close of 3,000 this year.
Major roads in Burgos, Pagudpud to Mt. Sicapao in Nueva Era were also upgraded.
In addition, public transportation was greatly improved with the launch of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council – Night Express in March to address the demands of tourists for night trips, especially in the route going to Pagudpud.