LAGAWE, Ifugao – The provincial government recorded a five-percent increase in tourist arrivals and visitors in the province last year compared to the registered tourist arrivals in the province during the previous years amidst the alleged deterioration of a number of its world famous rice terraces.
Provincial tourism officer Roscoe Calao said that from January to December last year, the province hosted some 170,000 tourists and 180,000 visitors, much higher numbers compared to the recorded tourist and visitor arrivals in the province in 2016.
Calao explained tourists are those who stay in the province for over 24 hours while visitors are said to be day visitors who simply drop by and view the terraces before proceeding to other destinations in other provinces or go back to their points of destination.
For the first 5 months of the year, Calao revealed over 43,000 tourists visited the province while 40,000 visitors were recorded to have flocked to the different tourist destinations around the province.
“We collated the data on tourist and visitor arrivals from our tourism-related establishments who adopted a system of documenting the arrival of visitors in the province,” Calao stressed.
Gov. Pedro Mayam-o asserted that the local tourism industry remains robust amidst the reported deterioration of the scenic and historic rice terraces due to the absence of youth to continue farming as they prefer greener pastures outside the province or even in other parts of the world but efforts are being done by the provincial government and concerned government agencies to maximize the potentials of rice terraces that have been abandoned.
Aside from the scenery of the province, Mayam-o disclosed one of the major reasons for foreign and domestic tourists flocking to the province is to witness the well-preserved culture and traditions of the Ifugaos passed down to the present generation.
According to him, concerned government agencies and local governments are collaborating for the rehabilitation of abandoned rice terraces to make them productive apart from inspiring the youth to be actively involved in the agriculture sector to sustain the province’s increasing production of heirloom rice patronized in the United States.
Mayam-o claimed the areas being frequented by tourists and visitors are declared heritage sites in the different municipalities and the issue on the reported deterioration of the rice terraces has no significant effect on the tourist arrivals because what people want are sceneries and the culture of the people in these places.
He underscored that programs and projects are being developed by the concerned agencies and local governments to ensure the sustained preservation of the province’s rich culture and heritage as these are the attractions that draw the influx of visitors and tourists.
Ifugao plays host to the scenic rice terraces, the Eighth Wonder of the world, and which is included in the coveted list of world heritage sites by the United nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). By Dexter A. See