La Union

La Union tourism industry sees recovery from pandemic slump

John Michael Mugas

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La Union tourism industry sees recovery from pandemic slump

LA UNION SURFING. A surfer wades through the surf during the World Surfing League in San Juan town in La Union province.

La Union provincial government

La Union officials note an 11% surge in tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2022, indicating a promising trend for the region

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – Tourism in La Union is on the rebound, with an uptick in visitor numbers signaling a recovery from the COVID-19 travel restrictions that plagued the industry since early 2020.

La Union Governor Raphaelle Veronica “Rafy” Ortega-David said on Friday, February 16, that tourism in province has been steadily climbing following the pandemic-induced slump. 

Data reveals an 11% surge in arrivals in 2023 compared to 2022, indicating a promising trend for the region. In 2019, before the pandemic hit, the province logged some 660,096 tourists.

The 2023 figures, however, showed signs of recovery as around 550,359 tourists – 6,450 foreigners and 543,909 domestic tourists – visited La Union compared to the 494,387 in 2022, data from the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) showed. 

The figures exclude “the number of day visitors who come to our province for a quick getaway given our proximity to key cities in the country,” said David. 

In its La Union Wonders and Adventure, Visitor Experience Survey which tracks tourists’ behavior and purchase preferences and habits, it was shown that 57% of the total arrivals in 2023 were returning visitors.

The survey also showed that more tourists visited the province during “holidays and long weekends.”

The 2023 arrivals translated to P1 billion in tourism revenues, a 16% jump from the P897 million recorded in 2022, the data revealed.

The Urbiztondo beach in  San Juan town remained to attract the most number of tourists in the province last year, with 257,559 day visitors. 

Known for being a surfing capital and its easy proximity to the country’s capital, San Juan also offers a getaway for its laid-back vibes and spirited nightlife.

In January this year, the town also played host to the World Surfing League for its second consecutive year. During the event, the province hoped to increase its arrivals to 5% during the period of the competition from the previous influx of tourists at 17,976 visitors in 2023.

Aside from the beaches in San Juan, Namacpacan Church in Luna and Macho Temple in the capital city of San Fernando were also listed as the top tourist destinations in the province in 2023.

Based on tourism data, 77% of the province’s tourist arrivals in 2023  comprised young adults. Many of the visitors came from areas in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Cordillera Administrative Region, and the rest of Ilocos.

For this year, the provincial government is eyeing to increase its tourist arrivals by 3% by developing tour packages and ramping up its advertising of its beach tourism.

The tourism recovery paves the way for “opportunities to our local businesses and strengthen our local economy as we gear towards positioning La Union to be the heart of agri-tourism in Northern Luzon by 2025,” said David. –

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