LAOAG CITY – Resort owners in coastal Pagudpud town are ready to host tourists with great optimism they can recover from their losses due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“God is our hope. Covid-19 has affected us so much but we are thankful we are still alive,” said Natividad Pascua-Castillo, owner-manager of Akemaku Villas in Poblacion, Pagudpud town.
When she retired from teaching, Castillo along with her daughters who are now based abroad established a small villa on a barren family lot by the beach.
With the influx of tourists going to Pagudpud, known for its crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, the small villa which was originally planned as a family rest house and was later on expanded with additional cabanas for guests to stay.
For years since her family joined the tourism business in 2017, Castillo said they were able to help their neighbors earn extra income every time they have guests, who are mostly from abroad.
The last six months could have been a peak season for tourists in Pagudpud but their villas were empty due to the strict implementation of community quarantine measures.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry is among the hardest hit with massive job and revenue losses.
Like Castillo, other tourism stakeholders are gearing up to host visitors again but they have to comply with government regulations to ensure that tourists will not be bringing infection in the province.
Since the Oct. 1 gradual opening of tourism in the province for Region 1 and Baguio City residents, Provincial Tourism Officer Aianree Raquel said tourists have started to come in but they are limiting the entry of visitors to 50 persons per day only.
“We want to start slowly but surely,” said Raquel, adding it may take some time for people from the tourism industry to bounce back to normal.
“I know that Ilocos Norte is ready and we would like to thank the national government, the Department of Tourism and the provincial government of Ilocos Norte for providing the much-needed support in these trying times,” said Karen Sales, president of the Ilocos Norte Travel Association.
She added it takes a holistic approach to bring travel back and the support of everyone needed to build people’s confidence to start traveling and staying in hotels again. Leilanie Adriano / PNA – northboundasia.com