Ilocos Norte visitors (File photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY -- Around 600,000 local and foreign tourists spent their Holy Week in Ilocos Norte, up by more than 20 percent compared to the same period last year of almost half million, a consolidated report from the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) released on Thursday shows.

Report from the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) indicated that 483,778 of the total registered tourist arrivals stayed in hotels, as monitored by tourist aides assigned in more than 42 tourism destinations of Ilocos Norte.

“Our tourist arrivals for the Holy Week is another blockbuster considering other new destinations that we promoted this year,” Provincial Tourism Officer Aian Raquel said, referring to the sunflower farm in Piddig and the newly-inaugurated Siwawer Eco-Tourism Nature Park in Vintar which features extreme sports adventure and the first bike zipline in Ilocos region.

Raquel noted major hotels in key tourism areas were fully booked during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

INTO expects tourism peak to carry on until June and July.

Like in previous years, the giant windmills located at the Bangui Bay topped the highest number of visitors during the Holy Week season, followed by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saint Augustine Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

The blue lagoon in Pagudpud, Kapurpurawan Rocks Formation in Burgos and the sand dunes of Suba, Paoay were also included in the top 5 most visited attractions in Ilocos Norte.

Visitors at the Marcos Presidential Center and museum which consistently received a high number of arrivals in previous years significantly declined since the remains of the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Ilocos Norte’s steady peak of tourist arrivals only shows they are “doing well” in promotions, Raquel said as he underscored some local government units in the province are also aggressive in improving their respective municipalities to attract more tourists in the area. (PNA)