Open water swim meet to boost conservation efforts, local economy

BACOLOD CITY: The Western Visayas International Open Water Swim Circuit that will be held in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental on Feb. 18 will boost local tourism while highlighting the importance of coastal conservation and protection, an official said Thursday. In an interview, supervising tourism officer Jerick Lacson said the activity, which is expecting some 200 local and international swimmers and hundreds of visitors, will be a big boost to the city's economy. 'It will help accommodation establishments, local businesses, souvenir shops, transport operators as well as food producers like farmers and fisherfolk,' he told the Philippine News Agency. 'Part of the program is a showcase of the local culture and tradition of Sipalay through singing and dancing presentations, cultural trade fair and local delicacies,' Lacson said. Spearheaded by the Department of Tourism-Western Visayas (DOT-Region 6), the open water swimming competition also aims to connect people to nature and emphasizes the importance of preserving the coastal communities. Lacson said that through the activity, they intend to educate the participants on the importance of coastal conservation and protection, which is an advocacy of Sipalay and contained in its presentation of the best practices in sustainable tourism. Participants will also pay the environmental fee being used for the environmental protection and conservation efforts of the city, he said. He added the race venue, which is the Campomanes-Ballo Marine Reserve and Sanctuary, is a marine protected area itself. According to DOT-Region 6, participants will experience stunning coastal and underwater views and meet fellow swimmers passionate about protecting the oceans and cities. 'This also support the Sustainable Development Goal 11 mission for sustainable cities and communities. Participants will witness how Sipalay City embraces sustainable practices,' it said in a statement. Source: Philippines News Agency