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Tourist arrivals in Antique seen rising 20% in 2018

With the Department of Tourism's (DOT) continued promotion for emerging destinations in the country, effects had been evident with the fast-growing tourist arrivals in Antique, which has overtaken some bigger provinces like Guimaras in terms of visitor growth for Region 6.

In 2017, Antique reached 162,925 in both international and domestic visitor arrivals, and it also earned PHP3 billion in tourist receipts.

DOT targets at least 175,000 visitors for 2018.

Helen Catalbas, DOT Region 6 director, said that for this year, the agency is positioning Antique for sports tourism considering that the terrain is a good venue for outdoor and extreme sports.

Antique has played host to around 20,000 athletes, delegates and officials in the recently concluded Palarong Pambansa.

According to Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao, Antique is also seeking to snatch the rights to host the National Scout Jamboree by end of the year.

On Feb. 18, the province also hosted the 2018 SCUAA National Games.

"Tourism in Antique is getting dynamic and sports is a very good avenue to boost tourism," Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges said.

"While the contestants are doing this for a week they go around and increase visitor receipts," he said.

The province's tourism tagline is "Antique: where the mountains meet the sea."

Antique has all key tourism destinations in terrain and underwater such as the Malalison Island, Igpasungaw Falls, Bugang River, and the Tibiao River.

DOT's marketing strategy for Antique is under its regional office's promotional campaign entitled "Experience Western Visayas First," which focuses on attracting Panay island's local community itself.

“We believe that the region and its provinces and local destinations should first be marketable to its own residents," Catablas said in an interview with the media at the DOT Region 6 office in Iloilo.

Catalbas said the primary focus of this marketing slant is for locals to appreciate first their provinces and be better host to other domestic and foreign visitors.

With issues currently besetting Boracay, a top tourist destination in the country, Cadiao said the province is expecting a spillover from the island and are now preparing "unique and virgin" destinations that can be offered to visitors.

Both the DOT and the local government unit admitted that as an emerging destination, improvements on Antique's infrastructures are necessary to meet demand should a brim in arrivals is achieved.

"(Antique) is really for ragged travelers, for international, mostly from Europeans and millennials who wants to taste the natural settings, especially those coming from big cities," said Catalbas.

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA