Ilocos Norte to revive sisterhood ties with Cebu

Business.(Business File photo)

THE Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte wants to deepen and strengthen its economic ties with Cebu following the establishment of a direct flight linking both provinces.

On Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc expressed his interest in reviving the sisterhood agreement between the two provinces, which was originally signed in 2013, long before he entered politics.

“We are looking for strong partnerships here in Cebu to revive the sisterhood relationship whether it be formal or informal,” said Manotoc, in a press conference. He said reviving and strengthening the ties will unlock additional economic opportunities for both provinces.

Through the signed 2013 sisterhood agreement both provinces were able to implement exchange programs for tourism and trade, actively engaging business organizations.

Manotoc said through this renewed partnership, both parties would be able to tap into each other’s strengths and learn from each other’s best practices.

“We’d like to open up Ilocos Norte to more investments. We know that many leading businessmen in the Philippines are either from Cebu or trace their roots in Cebu so we’d like them to explore business opportunities in Ilocos, most especially in agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy like wind and solar. I believe there’s a lot of opportunities with our international air and seaports and our proximity to East Asia,” said Manotoc.

Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) new Cebu-Laoag flight route is set to take off on Friday, Dec. 15. This new connection is expected to enhance tourism, business, and leisure travel opportunities not only for Cebu but for the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

The Cebu-Laoag-Cebu route will fly every Tuesday and Friday departing at 7:35 a.m., and arriving at 10:05 a.m. From Laoag, it will fly back to Cebu at 10:25 a.m. arriving at 12:35 p.m. This saves a traveler from Cebu a 1.5-hour travel time to Manila via air and a half-day road trip to reach Ilocos.

“This commercial route from Cebu to Laoag will hopefully connect Ilocos Norte to the Central and Southern Philippines because we know that many Ilocanos reside in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. We would like to invite the entire archipelago and all of our fellow countrymen to Ilocos Norte, and I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed with our beautiful province,” the governor said.

Manotoc said his province is popular for its windmills and sand dunes attractions as well as its white beach in Pagudpud. “We are the only province in the country that offers a slice of Dubai, Boracay and Baguio.”

Besides attracting individual travelers, the governor also wants Ilocos Norte to attract the Mice or meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions market or become the next destination for teambuilding activities.

Moreover, Manotoc said the improved connectivity between the provinces is expected to create an ideal environment for business partnerships and collaborations where entrepreneurs and business professionals can efficiently traverse the distance, spurring economic activity.

The route will cater to the growing demand for leisure travel and allow visitors to enjoy the attractions and offerings of both Cebu and Ilocos Norte. This will also expose Ilocos to Cebu’s connection to 27 destinations, both domestic and overseas through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

The inaugural flight on Friday will carry Ilocos Norte officials and tourism stakeholders, PAL executives, and Cebu-based online influencers who will participate in the re-run of the “Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival.”

Ilocos Norte welcomed almost three million visitors in 2022, with tourism receipts reaching an estimated P8.8 billion.


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