BALER, Aurora—To boost tourist arrivals in this province, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is crafting a tourism code that will govern all tourism activities here and prevent overdevelopment, Vice Governor Rico Teh Angara said.
Angara, who presides over the SP or provincial board, said both the tourism code and the environmental code are important pieces of legislation they intend to pass.
Board Member Cesar Pimentel is drafting the tourism code while the SP is coordinating with Aurora’s local government units to pass their respective tourism codes and harmonize it with the code supported by the provincial government, the vice governor added.
Through the code, the provincial government also hopes to avoid the overdevelopment of other tourist sites in the country like Boracay, Angara said.
Tourist arrivals in this province, located in a horseshoe-shaped coastal valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean, have been on the rise since a decade ago when Baler became a surfer’s haven.
However, only 10 percent of Aurora’s tourist potential has been harnessed, according to Michael Palispis, provincial tourism officer.
Tourist arrivals may have reached an all-time high of 770,000 in 2015, but the number could have been much higher if other prospective tourist destinations in Aurora had been developed, particularly in the northern portion of the province, he added.
The province is gearing for the further development of tourist spots in Dipaculao town and in the northern municipalities of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag, known collectively as the Dicadi area.
“Definitely, our direction is going up north, and roads are now being concreted leading to tourist destinations,” Palispis said, citing a P200-million road network leading to the Casapsapan beach in Casiguran, now becoming famous because of its powdery white sand.
He said the road-concreting project is being undertaken under the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP), a convergence initiative of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“We have to sustain the growth of the tourism sector and be aggressive, especially when it comes to promotion,” he said.
Records from the provincial tourism office showed that the number of tourists for 2015 reached 778,917, up 13.71 percent from the previous year.