Laoag welcomes Chinese tourists
LAOAG CITY, Philippines—Amid a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines involving sections of the West Philippine Sea, Ilocano dancers, accompanied by a drum and lyre corps, welcomed Chinese tourists here on Saturday as chartered flights from Guangzhou to this Ilocos Norte capital resumed.
The inaugural flight of China Eastern Airlines from Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, which carried more than 100 passengers, touched down at Laoag International Airport (LIA) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Ma. Milagros Gonzales, provincial director of the Department of Tourism (DOT), said they were hopeful that the resumption of chartered flights here from China would boost local tourism.
Chartered flights from Guangzhou to Laoag and vice versa are scheduled twice in a week starting June 13, the DOT said.
DOT officials said the flights were initiated by the Guangdong International Travel Group. The tourists will stay at the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino, where they can play in the casino or play golf.
Local officials said the Chinese tourists may also explore Ilocos Norte’s beaches, sand dunes and historical destinations and sample local cuisine.
The LIA used to receive Chinese and Taiwanese tourists on regular chartered flights from Guangzhou and Kaoshiung, Taiwan.
Over the years, however, the number of chartered flights and the arrival of Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean tourists in Laoag declined.
In 2010, direct flights from Hong Kong to Laoag were canceled following the hostage-taking at Luneta Park in Manila that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.–Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon