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DOT-6 advocates for sustainable tourism, successfully opens first leg of Western Visayas Int’l Open Water Swim Circuit |

Travel and Tourism

DOT-6 advocates for sustainable tourism, successfully opens first leg of Western Visayas Int’l Open Water Swim Circuit
DOT-6 advocates for sustainable tourism, successfully opens first leg of Western Visayas Intâl Open Water Swim Circuit
Start of the 5km Male and Female Category of the International Open Water
Photo Release

SIPALAY, Philippines — Breathtaking waters, intimate interaction with nature, and a surprise cash prize captivated 146 swimmers who participated in the opening leg of the Western Visayas International Open Water Swim Circuit hosted by Sipalay City recently.

The open water “advocacy swim” event at the top beach destination in southern Negros Occidental marked the first of four legs of the Department of Tourism Region VI (DOT-6) efforts to campaign for sustainable tourism.

The next three legs will be in Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo on April 14; Taklong Island in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras on June 30; and finally culminating in Boracay Island, Aklan on September 22.

“The Western Visayas International Open Water Swim Circuit is not just a race; it’s a testament to our country’s commitment to environmental conservation and community engagement. Through the DOT-6-spearheaded event, we aim to tap into new markets of adventurers and sports enthusiasts. This successful kick-off in Sipalay City underscores the importance of responsible tourism, emphasizing the significance of caring for our environment. As we invite participants to register for future legs, we look forward to offering diverse and exciting swim experiences that echo our dedication to sustainable tourism and the warm hospitality of Western Visayas," shares DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco.

According to DOT-6 regional director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, open water swimming is a low-impact activity that promotes human-nature connections, engaging the community and creating awareness in terms of taking care of our environment.

“It’s very important to be able to be mindful of our activities,” Rodriguez said. “We should be aware that we are not just only promoting the beauty of our destinations, but also making everyone aware of the importance of taking care of our environment.”

Tapping into a new market segment of adventurers and sports enthusiasts is a key priority for the region which boasts of being the most accessible in terms of aviation connectivity, as well as having beautiful natural landscapes and waters.

The race route in Campomanes-Ballo Marine Reserve and Sanctuary is a protected marine area where hobby and competitive swimmers had the opportunity to swim within an immersive view of the island’s coral reef.

“We’re very proud of where we are now. We are a small city but we’re very big on environmental conservation. We take care of our remaining resources. It’s all geared toward saving, not just conserving, what we have and to optimize what we have,” said Sipalay City Mayor Maria Gina Lizares.

Organized in partnership with the Zamboanga Open Water Swimming Club Inc., the event featured three distance categories: 1.5K, 3K and 5K, participated by five age groups, ranging from 12 to 50 years old. The event gathered local and foreign swimmers from across the world, with the youngest being eight-year-old twins.

Birgit Koschischek, a two-time Olympian swimmer from Austria who was in Sipalay City for vacation, also graced the event, finishing first in the 1.5K category. “It was a great swim. I enjoyed the ocean. There were lots of fish, and the reef was good. The ocean and the weather conditions were fine,” she said.

Organizing Committee: DOT Region VI headed by regional director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, ZOWSCI headed by club president Japy Silapan, City Government of Sipalay headed by Mayor Maria Gina Lizares, supervising tourism operations officer Jerick Lacson, and Provincial Government of Negros Occidental headed by Gov. Bong Lacson, represented by supervising tourism operations officer Cheryl Decena

The organizers of the event are inviting adventurers to register for the future swim events. Japy Silapan, one of the organizers, said that swimmers should expect to have a different experience in the future legs. 

He said, “There will be more exciting swim routes and distances that are friendly for beginners and veteran swimmers. We will still support the locally sourced food in the areas and the green advocacy that will promote sustainable tourism. Of course, the hospitality of Western Visayas will still be there.”

Finishers of the Sipalay City leg were awarded a medal, while podium finishers were given a wooden trophy crafted by a local artisan and a cash prize sponsored by Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor Lizares.

Full winners and details about the upcoming legs can be found on Western Visayas International Open Water Swim’s Facebook and Instagram.

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