Exciting! Ilocos banks on allure of nature, outdoor adventures in bid to revive tourism

Published June 23, 2021, 2:52 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Outdoor activities such as bicycle tours and motorbiking will be highlighted as part of the tourism recovery plan of the Ilocos region amid the ongoing pandemic, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

La Paz Sand Dunes, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (Photo from Department of Tourism)

Citing DOT’s latest domestic travel survey, Puyat said there is a shift in local tourism preferences as travelers are now looking to incorporate outdoor activities like hiking and biking in their itinerary.

As a response to this, new biking and motorbiking trails are being eyed for development in Region 1 such as the Find the One Bike Tour and Motorismo, with trails coursing through the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur.

“Region 1 holds so much potential to appeal to tourists under the new normal, given its abundance in nature sites. That is why we are very excited to launch the tourism recovery plan that will introduce new and exciting activities that will provide additional opportunities for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region,” Puyat said during her recent visit to Pangasinan province.

“I encourage our kababayans to please travel and support local while observing the necessary health and safety protocols,” she added.

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat watches a live weaving demo during her inspection of the Bolinao Sungayan Grill River Restaurant on June 21. (Photo from Department of Tourism)

To further strengthen the implementation of health and safety guidelines among tourism establishments, the DOT Region 1 also accredited 61 Level 1 Surf Instructors, who will raise the standards of surfing lessons in the region’s popular surf spots.

The DOT’s tourism recovery initiative in the region also involves highlighting the Marian Pilgrimage Tour; specialized training for Inabel textile weavers in Ilocos Sur; the Eastern, Western, and Central Pangasinan Tourism Circuit; Bird Watching Tourism Circuit in Ilocos Norte; and the development of eco/nature trails in La Union.

The tourism chief likewise unveiled plans to restore and transform the historical Casa Real in Pangasinan into the province’s first museum for locals and tourists to appreciate the rich history of the province.

According to Puyat, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an attached agency of the DOT, has provided some P50 million worth funds for the restoration project.

To ensure the safety of tourists and stakeholders, the DOT secretary encouraged local government units to use the “Tara Na!” app, a travel request and contact tracing system funded by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).

This also aims to unify the region’s border controls and serve as a green lane for tourists coming into the region.