AKLAN, Philippines — Although it lies less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the globally famous resort island of Boracay, the province of Antique in the central Philippines remains primarily an agricultural and fishing province. Today, provincial government leaders are working to lure more tourists to Antique, an endeavor for which Boracay — where the boom in tourism has often come at the expense of the ecosystem — has proved both inspirational and instructive. Tourism numbers in Antique had started ramping up before COVID-19 hit. In 2017, the local tourism office recorded about 500,000 tourist arrivals. By 2019, that had tripled to 1.3 million. The number, however, dropped in 2020 to just 10,706 due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. But as tourism promotion efforts grow, officials and conservationists are grappling with the challenge of how to balance tourism development with conservation of the environment. Panay Island, Antique Province. The province of Antique in the central Philippines remains primarily an agricultural and fishing province. Image by Gary Todd via Flickr. Antique is known as a haven for flora and fauna, which officials are banking on to draw in the tourists. Loren Legarda, a congresswoman who represents the province, says Antique offers opportunities to explore and experience marine and terrestrial biodiversity that complements the world-class tourism in Boracay. These include giant Rafflesia “corpse flowers” in Sibalom Natural Park and in the neighboring municipality of San Remigio, as well as critically endangered writhed-billed hornbills (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni) and endangered Visayan tarictic hornbills in Pandan municipality…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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