PANGASINAN, Philippines – Bicycle tours, motorbiking, and other outdoor activities are part of the recovery plan that the Department of Tourism (DOT) shall execute to spur local tourism in the Ilocos Region, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat announced Tuesday (June 22) during a technical inspection of tourism sites in Pangasinan.
During her three-day visit to Pangasinan, the tourism chief explained that with the shift in local tourism preferences, as shown in the DOT’s latest domestic travel survey, tourists are now looking to incorporate outdoor activities like hiking and biking in their leisure travel.
Puyat said that as a response to the changing traveler preferences, the DOT has its eyes on developing new biking and motorbiking trails 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. I encourage our kababayans to please travel and support locals while observing the necessary health and safety protocols,” Puyat stressed.
The tourism chief noted that in addition to the DOT’s strengthened implementation of health and safety guidelines for tourism establishments, the regional office has already accredited 61 Level 1 Surf Instructors through the Academy of Surf Instructors Philippines (ASI), which will uplift the standards of surfing lessons in the region’s popular surf spots.
Other tourism recovery initiatives of the DOT in Region 1 include 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.
Puyat also highlighted the Tara Na! app, a travel request, and a contact tracing system funded by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB). According to Puyat, this is the product of a collaborative effort between the LGUs and the DOT to unify the region’s border controls and to serve as a green lane for tourists coming into the region.
The Tourism Chief likewise unveiled plans to restore and transform the historical Casa Real in Pangasinan—into the province’s first museum that will enable both locals and tourists to appreciate the rich history of Pangasinan. To fund the restoration of Casa Real, Puyat said that the DOT, through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), an attached agency of the DOT, has provided Php 50 million for the project.
As part of her inspection of tourism sites in Pangasinan, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat on Monday (June 21) led the unveiling of the Casa Real Historical Marker in Lingayen, together with Pangasinan 2nd District Representative Jumel Anthony I. Espinol (leftmost), Pangasinan Governor Amado I. Espino III (second from left), and National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairman Dr. Rene R. Escalante.
While in Pangasinan, Puyat also led a ceremonial awarding of certificates to beneficiaries of the DOT and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) cash assistance program in Region 1.
As of June 18, the DOT regional office successfully endorsed 2,652 cash aid applications of tourism enterprises from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan.
“The DOT is pleased to announce that a total of 51,083 workers have so far been approved by DOLE Region 1 for a total of Php 255 million in cash assistance,” Puyat said.
She added that the bulk of the cash aid allotment for Region 1 went to Pangasinan, with total assistance of Php 187.4 million, benefitting 37,478 individuals.