In Ilocos Norte, more water sports dev’t, restaurants to lure Chinese tourists

LAOAG CITY — With the expected arrival of hundreds of Chinese tourists to visit Ilocos Norte starting this month, the provincial government eyes to develop water sports activities and more food establishments.

“We are getting ready and we are planning to revisit old plans to develop water sports facilities, in anticipation for this influx forecast by the group (which included Governor Imee Marcos) that visited China with the president,” said Provincial Tourism Officer Aianree Raquel.

According to him, the biggest resort hotel in Ilocos Norte “welcomed twice a week flight direct from Guangzhou, China and we expect that the number of flights from China direct to Laoag City will grow in the coming year.”

Raquel said Marcos ordered them to reassess tourism strategies especially in local product development and marketing based from the taste of Chinese tourists.

While improving water sports facilities in Pagudpud town, the provincial government will offer alternative sites around Paoay Lake as well as Currimao and Badoc beach areas.

Raquel added that Chinese tourists are also fond of fresh seafood “so we are looking for possibilities to establish such business in the towns of Pasuquin, Pagudpud and Paoay.”

There is also need for Chinese-speaking tour guides, Raquel said.

“We have a school in Paoay where we have Chinese lessons but we’d like to have more.”

Raquel sees the situation as a “positive development for Ilocos Norte’s tourism industry…and a chance to strengthen the relationship between the province and China.”

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned that he would prioritize the tourism sector.

Last Oct. 18, China Eastern Airlines launched the Guangzhou-Laoag chartered flights.

Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo hoped that through the initiative, they will surpass the six million tourist target this year.