LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — Ilocos Norte’s local officials and representatives from the local travel agencies and enterprises are ready for the launching of the “Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor” in Baguio City on September 22.
Ilocos Norte’s Provincial Tourism Officer Aian Raquel said on Thursday that the Ilocos Norte delegation will attend the launching to conduct a public presentation on available and bookable tours amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
Ilocos Norte’s team will be composed of representatives from the provincial government and Buy Ilocos Norte, and members of the Ilocos Norte Travel Agencies Association
The “Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor” is an initiative of chief executives and tourism councils in Northern Luzon to cushion the impact of COVID-19 across tourism industries.
“We are selling first to residents of Region I and Baguio City. The theme of our tour packages is anchored on our best assets, our natural environment that allows us to rejuvenate and breathe in the fresh air. We are pushing for a healthy lifestyle through our itineraries,” said Raquel.
“Our presentation highlights our resilience in the middle of this pandemic. We are known as a resilient province and people so these are the things we are showcasing,” Raquel added.
Members of the technical working group of the Baguio-La Union-Pangasinan-Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte (BLUPISIN) had earlier convened a 5-day consultation meeting for the conceptualization of a unified tourism reopening guideline.
Raquel said Ilocos Norte had proposed the most number of towns for reopening among member provinces.
Phase I of the reopening is the Inter-regional Travel Corridor. Phase II is an Expanded Travel Corridor. Phase III will be a Subnational Travel Corridor.
“During the Technical Working Group meeting, we tried our protocol and somehow it worked. The processing time at the border (Ilocos Norte Southern Provincial Border in Badoc Town) was around one hour and a half including the waiting time of the Rapid Antigen Test result,” he said.
“We also tried the Safe Travel Application for You in Ilocos Norte (Stay IN). It is not yet perfect but it has a promising development. If the National Government or regional counterparts are not able to decide on what application to use, we are ready to support our stakeholders with the locally-developed free web-based app,” Raquel said.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Ilocos Norte Gov. Mathew Marcos Manotoc, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson Meehan, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Pangasinan Gov. Amado I. Espino III, and La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega, who was represented by Department of Tourism (DOT) Region I Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega last September 2 at the Baguio Country Club, for the “Ridge and Reef” cooperation.