Classic Ilocos delicacies wrapped in banana leaves, garlic-flavored cornick, and banana cue (Filipino fried caramelized bananas) are a hit among international cruise passengers who spent at least two hours visiting the Minor Basilica Shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa and the historic museum of the Luna brothers in Badoc, Ilocos Norte on Friday.
“They love our Ilokano foods. Some even requested takeout,” said Marc Anthony Baldoz, a representative of the local government unit of Badoc.
Araceli Salem, acting head of the Department of Tourism (DOT) sub-office in Ilocos Norte told Philippine News Agency that 359 out of the 611 passengers aboard the maiden call of MS Insignia availed the Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte tour as their cruise ship docked at the Salomague Port in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur on Friday morning.
At the port, the DOT and local government officials, together with performers and tour guides, welcome the passengers and crew.
The Oceana Cruise’s Insignia departed in Bangkok, Thailand last June 2, and visited Cambodia and Vietnam before arriving in Manila and in this northern part of the Philippines.
After spending three days in the country, the ship will be heading to Taiwan and several parts of Japan to complete the 18-night cruise.
While in Ilocos, Salem said, “The guests visited some heritage sites in Vigan, Laoag, Paoay, and Badoc.”
According to the DOT, the arrival of cruise ships in various parts of the country this year signals the resurgence of the tourism industry.
“Revenge tourism is for real and we are happy to note that Ilocos is on the top list preferred by our visitors,” she added.
For 2023, the DOT is expecting a total of 139 port calls at 46 destinations in the country. The figure is higher than the 102 port calls in 2019.
To entice more visitors and help spur economic recovery in the region, both the Salomague Port in Ilocos Sur and the Currimao Port in Ilocos Norte were upgraded in 2021 to increase cruise calls in the region.
These ports are strategically located near the popular beaches and heritage sites of the Ilocos Region. (PNA)