Antique province in the central Philippines is looking to boost local revenues through ecotourism, after the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on a thriving tourism industry. The province is home to a rich biodiversity, including the critically endangered writhed-billed hornbill, giant rafflesia “corpse flower,” and rare bowl corals. Taking a leaf from the experience of nearby Boracay, the resort island where a tourism boom led to severe environmental damage, local officials face the challenge of balancing tourism-driven development and environmental protection. A prominent lawmaker is pushing for seascapes and coastal zones in the province to be given national protection. 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 […]

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