Paoay Lake Water Park. Photo by Joefel Danipog.

In Ilocos Norte, outdoor activities are seen to jumpstart the recovery of local tourism amid the pandemic. These include scenic bike trails, bird watching activities, and a planned inflatable waterpark island.

With no more testing required at the provincial borders for fully vaccinated individuals, the “new normal” attractions are seen to attract tourists hungry to go out of their houses once more.

In this part of the country, at least 12 scenic bike trails are being promoted as a healthy and safer alternative activity for leisure travel. In Ilocos Norte, the bikers’ community has grown to around 30,000, compared to just 5,000 before the pandemic.

The province also offers something for environmentalists and nature lovers with the opening of a bird-watching circuit recently launched at the Paoay Lake National Park. Before the pandemic, bird enthusiasts often visited the lake for a chance to see the great cormorant (a migratory bird known for its matted feathers), Philippine ducks, and many other bird species.

Aside from bird-watching, tourists can soon enjoy a quick run and swim in the planned inflatable island being set up at Paoay Lake expected to open this December. The P26.1-million-worth waterpark is seen to activate the Paoay Lake for tourism and investment opportunities.

In Batac City, on the other hand, stall owners selling the famous empanada made of grated papaya, mung beans (monggo), egg and longganisa (local sausages) are lately running out of stocks, thanks to an increasing number of tourists that come for the newly-opened outdoor attractions in nearby towns of Paoay and Currimao. There’s also a boat-riding and kayaking adventure at the Quiaoit River.

Guided by the Metro Ilocos Master Development Plan of 2020, the province aims to develop more outdoor sites and update the Transport Master Plan of the province, incorporating bike lanes in areas with a growing traffic problem such as in downtown Laoag.