LAOAG CITY, May 18 (PIA) – The provincial government held a two-week festival which incorportated traditionally events and more, from May 2 to 14. The first provincial festival dubbed “La Milagrosa Provincial Fiesta” was celebrated in honor of Ilocos Norte’s patron Saint Virgin Mary.
Activities included a Flores de Mayo procession (with the Governor Imee Marcos as the Reyna Sagala), street and beach parties and a sand festival that capped the two-week long fiesta.
The provincial fiesta was meant to continue generating tourism attractions to Ilocos Norte following a huge tourist turn out since the launch of the province’s tourism brand “Paoay Kumakaway” (Paoay is waving) in March.
And while other tourist destinations are beginning to feel the pinch of the threats from China to stop sending its tourists to the Philippines, Ilocos Norte is sharing its lessons on how it turned around its tourism industry by diverting its tourism pitch to other markets.
The campaign pitch “Paoay Kumakaway,” which targeted the domestic market and other countries aside from China, had since reached a wide audience locally and abroad using television spots, billboards in Metro Manila’s main traffic routes, on the screens of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and online sites.
Marcos also transformed Ilocos Norte’s tourism landscape from a mere R&R (rest and recreation) spot to a family-type destination after the number of Chinese tourists dwindled following the pull out of Hongkong flights from Laoag as a result of the Luneta hostage crisis in Manila in 2010.
On top of the usual tourism sites, the provincial government also put together unusual events beginning May to continue generating tourism activities such as the sand festival along the Paoay Sand Dunes last May 10.
The event was meant to sell the province’s stretch of sand dunes as venue for sand sports like off-road racing, sandcastle building and art installations.
The Paoay sand dunes became popular in 1982 as the setting of internationally acclaimed film “Himala” by the late national artist Ishmael Bernal and which starred Nora Aunor.
It was on the same spot that unusual art installations of sculptor Leeroy New were built as part of the sand festival.
With nearly 700,000 tourists that visited the province since April, Ilocos Norte has made a headway in the tourism industry. And tourists continue streaming in as they enjoy the remaining days of the dry season. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)