Aglipay Caves, Quirino. (Photo courtesy of DOT Region 2/Noli Gabilo)

MANILA – Quirino province is looking to team up with one of the country’s largest tour operators group to position its adventure and nature tourism as a great alternative for domestic and foreign travelers visiting the North.

Speaking before the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) meeting on Wednesday, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) President and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua proposed to facilitate a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between local government units and the group for possible tourism cooperation.

He said the initiative could start with Quirino province, which can offer a range of tourism products to travelers looking for both culture and nature.

“Through this collaboration, we will reap benefits not only for the people but for the LGUs, tour operators, and stakeholders as well,” he said as he also invited members of the PHILTOA to join familiarization tours to the province.

PHILTOA has over 400 members nationwide, with markets ranging from outbound, domestic and inbound travelers.

In a separate interview, Cua said Quirino is ready to welcome tourists especially now that accommodations and food establishments in the province are bouncing back from the pandemic.

“Quirino is packaging towards adventure and ecotourism, we’re in the middle of Sierra Madre so you can find a lot. of waterfalls in our province, lush forest that you don’t see everyday,” he told reporters.

“When you talk about Philippine tourism, the first thing that comes to mind is beach right? But here we offer different— mountains, spelunking, nature, white water rafting. So this is the ridge instead of the reef,” he added.

Cua said he hopes to replicate the success in attracting tourists of other destinations with no usual sun and beach attractions like Baguio and the Banaue.

“Quirino is of similar category but more undiscovered,” he said.

He added that Quirino had been investing in improving its infrastructures and roads for over 10 years to make travel more accessible to all kind of tourists, especially motor riders— it’s top visitors, to date.

“We have many waterfalls that are accessible by road so basic infrastructures are all there,” he said.

“(If you go to Quirino), makinis ‘yong roads, mahaba (the roads are clean and long). It’s sloping through the mountain range. There are inner portions that are rough road but the main thoroughfares are very good smooth roads already so kapag nag-drive ka diyan parang ‘yong Italian and Swiss Alps na pasikutsikot sa taas ng bundok, ganoon ang makikita mo doon (when you drive there, it's like the Italian and Swiss Alps that you'll see at the top of the mountain, that's what you'll see there),” he added.

The official ensured that tourists would be safe in Quirino citing its “insurgency-free” status by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. (PNA)