VIGAN CITY: The number of tourists trooping to this heritage city has increased dramatically following its inclusion as one of the world’s New7Wonders Cities, a tourism official said.
In December last year, the month Vigan was announced a Wonder City, at least 350,000 tourists flocked here, surpassing the city’s annual tourist arrival in 2013, Provincial Tourism Officer Michael Ryan Astom said.
“In December  alone, we had 350,000 tourists in Vigan. Unexpectedly, it surpasses our annual tourist arrival of 271,000 in 2013,” he told The Manila Times.
Ilocos Sur was formally inaugurated a Wonder City on May 7 with New7Wonders President Bernard Weber leading the ceremonies.
In the first quarter of 2015, the provincial tourism office registered at least half a million tourists visiting Vigan.
“From January up to Holy Week in April this year, there were 500,000 tourists in the city. That doesn’t include the numbers of visitors who came here to witness the inauguration [last week],” Astom said.
To accommodate the sudden increase of tourists, Astom said the Provincial Tourism Office of Ilocos Sur and the City Tourism Office of Vigan, with the help of the Department of Tourism Region 1, have initiated several alternatives, such as encouraging homeowners in the city to accept homestay invitations from tourists in their vacant rooms and houses.
But he said they select families who could offer homestay, since there are guidelines that should be followed to assure the safety of tourists and the quality of their stay.
“The houses should not the far, or it should be at least three kilometers away from the city proper. Also, it should have all the amenities needed by the tourist, and we encourage the local families to serve breakfast,” he added.
Moreover, hotels and food establishments have mushroomed in the past year, with at least 11 restaurants and four hotels opening since December 2013, Astom noted.
Businessmen have also started visiting the area to consider investing in the city, he said, which could benefit not only the city but the province as well.
Astom assured the tourists’ safety is still their primary concern, noting policemen have been stationed in different parts of the city to maintain order. He said they recorded zero incidents involving tourists and visitors in the past years.