MALASIQUI, Pangasinan - The Pangasinan Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer (PTCAO) has recorded 3.5 million tourist arrivals in the province from January to July this year, 80 percent higher than the 691,901 tourist arrivals in 2021.
Based on the PTCAO on Thursday, of the total number, the majority were domestic tourists while only 1,704 were foreign tourists.
Most of the foreign tourists were from India, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Guam, and New Zealand, and others.
Some 223,060 tourists stayed in accommodation establishments while the rest were day tourists or those who went directly to tourist destinations.
The tourist arrivals peaked in April with 1.3 million recorded in this month alone.
PTCAO head Maria Luisa Amor-Elduayan, in an online interview, attributed the increase in tourist arrivals to the health and travel safety protocols implemented during the pandemic year.
The top five tourist destinations in the province are Manaoag town with 2.1 million visitors, Bolinao town with 326,542, Alaminos City with 251,320, Lingayen town with 123,527, and Natividad town with 110,806 tourists.
She said Manaoag town is an internationally recognized Marian pilgrimage site.
"In fact, its status has been elevated to the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag. It has been canonically affiliated with the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome since June 2011," she added.
Elduayan said the parish encompassing Manaoag and the surrounding towns is administered by the Order of Preachers under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
It was officially declared a Basilica in 2015.
Its tourist arrivals peaked in April during the Holy Week with 868,307 visitors recorded.
Bolinao town, Elduayan said, is a major sun and beach destination in the Ilocos Region and has been a traditional destination for beach-loving crowds.
Alaminos City is the home of the Hundred Islands National Park while Lingayen town is the provincial capital, the administrative center of the province of Pangasinan, she said.
"It is the host to various heritage structures, the provincial government in the Ilocos Region," she added.
Elduayan said Natividad town is fast becoming recognized as a pilgrimage area, particularly its enormous Christ the Redeemer statue on the top of the tallest hill in the area at the foot of the nearby Caraballo mountains. (PNA)