Bloated and overwhelmed

YES, the tourists came in droves.

Six Hundred Eighty Thousand—that, the provincial government says, is the number of tourists who flocked to Ilocos Norte during the Holy Week.

Many think the figure is bloated, and I am trying to understand why. That number, plus the province’s population of around 600,000 combines to 1.28-M. With the country’s population at 92-M, that means 1 of every 77 Filipinos were in Ilocos Norte during the week. It is simply unimaginable, some say, although ‘unimaginable’ could be something positive. Even with a most generous margin of error of, say, 20 percent, the figure is still huge. Boracay, for instance, only usually has around 800,000 tourist arrivals for an entire year, and we know the figure is credible because there is a proper headcount at the Caticlan Port en route to the famous beach.

Personally, I think the method by which they arrived at the statistic is rough at best. Capitol tourist staff counted occupancies in hotels, lodges, and home stays, and, in addition, also data from traffic and tourist centers. The duplication in headcount was thus very possible.

But don’t get me wrong, dear karikna, I honestly believe, and know for sure, that there was indeed a dramatic rise in tourist arrivals here, and I am happy with this development. Living near La Elliana Hotel, La Preciosa Restaurant, and other tourism-related establishments gives me a layman’s feel of how things are going on for tourism.

 “Major restaurants and small time carinderias noted the dramatic increase of tourists this year. Customers who wanted to taste Ilocano cuisine like bagnet, longanisa, empanada and miki had to line up in queues for them to get served,” says a Capitol press release which also reported that “All hotels and transient homes with a capacity of 2,600 rooms were booked and spillover went to private houses to homestay and others set up tents around the major destinations.” It cited Texicano Hotel which has only 50 rooms but received 468 guests during the week.

Sounds sweet, though this is both an accomplishment and a wake-up call. Officials admit that tourists had to wait for at least two hours to get a decent meal, half a day to get billeted. You know how stressful that could be for people who just want to have fun. Good thing there were very few, really few, foreign tourists. Continue reading “Bloated and overwhelmed”