Local chief executives of the city and provinces in the Ilocos Region, Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expressing their mutual support and understanding for the expansion of official and non-governmental exchanges and friendship through the promotion of tourism and stability geared towards greater heights and initiate reciprocation for the put up of a tourism corridor in northern Luzon.
The MOU was signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson Meehan, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Ilocos Norte Gov. Mathew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, Pangasinan Gov. Amado I. Espino III and La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega, who was represented by Department of Tourism (DOT) Region I regional director Joseph Francisco Ortega.
The MOU signing which was conducted at the Baguio Country Club (BCC) Ballroom was witnessed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer Maria Antonette Allones, Intramuros Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido and DOT-CAR officer-in-charge Jovy Ganongan.
Under the MOU, the local chief executives agreed to conduct research in areas that would be beneficial among the Baguio-La Union-Pangasinan-Ilocos Sur-Ilocos Norte (BLUPISIN), particularly, but not limited, to the possible creation of a Baguio-Region I tourism corridor featuring the natural, cultural, and creative pride of place of its zone to cultivate interest in would-be travelers.
Further, the MOU seeks to foster the establishment of green lanes for tourists to aggressively promote safe travel and seamless inter-connectivity of land voyage in their respective territorial jurisdictions.
However, the gradual opening of tourism in the involved local governments will still be subject to prevailing health and safety protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH), national and local inter-agency task forces for the management of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, local government authorities and other governing bodies.
According to the MOU, the local governments will explore the possibility of implementing a unified border check protocol to promote faster and more convenient journey to enter BLUPISIN tourist destinations as earlier agreed upon by the tourism stakeholders of the aforesaid local governments.
The local officials admitted that the prevailing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic regulated, if not entirely hampered, the free movement and travel to and from the Philippines and within the country, thus, greatly affecting the tourism industry and economy.
Earlier, tourism managers of the country recognized that domestic travel will be the catalyst to revive the ailing virus-hit Philippine tourism while international voyage, in the meantime, takes a back seat until such time that the global situation will stabilize when a vaccine or medicine will be available and certified as safe for the people by experts.
In support to the aforesaid initiative, the local authorities underscored the need to introduce innovations to regain the confidence of tourists to start travelling again and residents of tourist destinations to accept visitors once more in adherence to prevailing health and safety protocols.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Rosalia T. See