Ilocos Norte, the first province in the Philippines awarded with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp for its adoption of globally recognized health and safety protocols during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, is also the safest for tourists.
During the conduct of the first-quarter provincial peace and order council meeting held at the Capitol auditorium, Julius Suriben, provincial director of the Ilocos Norte police, said Friday that no crime incidents involving tourists have been recorded so far this year.
“We are happy to report that there was zero case involving tourists,” Suriben said, noting that the total number of crime incidents dropped to 150 so far this year from 166 in the same period last year.
For the safety of visitors, at least 36 “protect boxes” manned by tourist police are scattered in various parts of the province to secure visitors and guests in the province.
The police installed the protect boxes in visible and accessible areas where the public could seek protection or assistance in the province. Initiated by Suriben, at least two police personnel are manning each of the protect boxes 24/7.
These are located along tourist areas and public places where most people converge.
“The protect boxes are part of our program to bring our services outside the PNP stations,” he said.
Ilocos Norte is one of the first destinations in the Philippines to reopen for tourism. The province was also part of the pioneer Ridge and Reef Tourism Corridor among Region I (Ilocos) provinces and Baguio City.
They have recognized the presence of safety nets for stakeholders in the industry, specifically the establishment of a tourists’ triage, the regular conduct of hotel inspections, and efforts to prioritize tourism workers in the vaccine rollout, said Xavier Ruiz, officer-in-charge of the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office.
Ruiz said various accommodation facilities in key destinations are now fully booked for reservations for the Holy Week. (PNA)