Ilocos Norte officially launched Phase II of reopening for tourism within the “Ridge and Reef Travel Corridor” yesterday, at the Robinsons Place Ilocos, San Nicolas.

Phase II of the “Ridge and Reef” is the amplified inter-regional travel bubble that includes other provinces and regions in Luzon as tourist generating areas.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who arrived earlier in the province, will grace the formal launching ceremony, along with DOT Region 1 Director Mr. Joseph Francisco Ortega at Sitio Remedios, Currimao. Among other guests, DOT officials have witnessed “Biag ni Lam-ang” and “Fiesta Empanada” cultural performances as one of the highlights of the launch.

“Now, nauna si Governor Matthew [Phase II]. Nagbukas siya noong October 15 for all Luzon residents. Ang kagandahan kasi, pinagmasdan muna ng ibang provinces sa bansa ang nangyari sa Baguio at Region I. Noong nakita nilang successful, gumagaya na lang sila. Actually, you are the leader [Region I]. You are the number one. And I would like to thank Ilocos Norte for leading the way. Dahil sa inyo, magkakatrabaho na yung mga walang trabaho sa mahigit anim na buwan,” Secretary Puyat expressed.

The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), through the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO), prepared a series of activities: the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Mini Travel fair at the Robinsons Place, and the Region 1 Tourism Convention, also included the launch of Region Tourism Branding and the inauguration of Region 1 Tourism Council Interim Officers at Sitio Remedios.

Last October 13, Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc has established guidelines for the second phase of the reopening of tourism through Executive Order No. 98-20. Among the salient points of the guidelines include mandatory COVID-19 tests, registration to a software application called SafePass, a validated Health Declaration, and signed Affidavit of Understanding, among others.

“I’d like to reiterate na our tourists are not roaming freely. Talagang monitored, regulated, and accompanied ang movement nila kasi one of our safeguards is delineating and minimizing yung socialization ng mga turista sa local community. But at the same time, we’ll find ways so that our tourists can patronize our local businesses.

“In addition, I’ve always believed that our tourism has been growing very steadily and quite rapid. We’re hoping to make a climb to one of the first or top-of-mind destinations in the country. We know that when people actually come and visit, they are often very happy and impressed. So kahit malayo, we invite everyone to take a trip in our province. Surely, the land travel will be forgotten soon after they enjoy the beauty of Ilocos Norte,” Gov. Marcos Manotoc remarked.

Ilocos Norte has already started welcoming tourists since October 15, recording its first four travelers from Baguio City and Antipolo City.

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