TOURIST REST AREA. Tourism Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco (4th from right) leads the groundbreaking ceremony of a tourist rest area to be built at the municipal beach park in Barangay Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte on Monday (Dec. 12, 2022). Also present in the photo are DOT officials, TIEZA chief Mark Lapid, town officials led by Pagudpud Mayor Rafael Ralph Benemerito and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc. (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – A modern two-story facility with clean restrooms, a lounge and information center for tourists as well as a trade center for locally-sourced products will soon rise at the Saud municipal beach park in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte province to entice more visitors to this northern gateway of Luzon.

Funded by the Department of Tourism (DOT), the establishment of the tourist rest area in the town aims to complement Ilocos Norte’s tourism masterplan which involves the waterfront development of the Saud Beach park in the near future.

In her speech during the groundbreaking ceremony attended by various local tourism stakeholders as well as provincial and municipal officials, DOT Secretary Ma. Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco said the pioneering tourism rest area to be constructed in Pagudpud is a fulfilment of the vision of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to utilize tourism as a driving force for the country’s economic recovery.

“I hope that the construction of a tourism rest area [in Pagudpud] will give new hope to our tourism stakeholders and front liners,” said Frasco, citing this is just the first of the many project collaborations between the DOT and the province of Ilocos Norte to rebuild Saud Beach into a world-class destination.

Under the Metro Ilocos Norte tourism masterplan designed by Palafox Associates, more cottages, souvenir shops and commercial centers to house pop-up stalls, food and beverage and a hilltop restaurant are expected to rise at the municipal beach park of Pagudpud.

While sharing his excitement on the latest tourism development of Pagudpud, Mayor Rafael Ralph Benemerito thanked the DOT and Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc for lobbying funds for the construction of the first tourism rest area in his hometown.

"After more than two years of ‘lockdown' [due to Covid-19], your presence here is highly appreciated,” Benemerito told visitors and top-ranking officials from the DOT as well as the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) led by chief operating officer Mark Lapid.

On the same day, a tripartite memorandum of agreement was signed by authorized representatives of the DOT, TIEZA and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte to further improve the province's tourism infrastructure development programs and entice more tourists and investors to come here.

Aside from Pagudpud, the DOT is eyeing to establish nine more pilot tourism rest areas in the country as part of rebuilding tourism in the new normal. (PNA)