International open water swim circuit race launched

(From left) Sipalay City Mayor Gina Lizares, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and DOT-6 Regional Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Department of Tourism in Region-6 launched Monday the International open water swim circuit race geared to establish Western Visayas as a leading destination for sports and ecotourism, particularly for open water swimming.

DOT region-6 director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez led the launching in a press conference with Sipalay City Mayor Gina Lizares and Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson held at the social hall of the provincial capitol here Monday afternoon.

Rodriguez said this is the first sports tourism activity of DOT-6  for this year and will kick off in Sipalay City on February 18, 2024 for its first leg.

The second leg will be in Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo on April 14, 2024, and the third in Taklong Island in Guimaras and Boracay island in Aklan.

Rodrigue further said that there are initial participants who have already committed to join the race with the youngest at eight years old.

Some registered as a group and others as a family and they expect at least 150 participants, including foreigners.

For now, she said there is no cash prize for the participants and the DOT has initially allotted P1,000,000 for the undertaking.

She added that they have partners supporting the event adding, “We will see if we can raise cash prizes for the race finishers.”

Rodriguez stressed though that the endeavor is also aimed to expand Western Visayas’ global appeal by building a network of sports and cultural enthusiasts aligning with sustainable practices.

She added that the event is also aimed at advocating for the conservation and management of natural habitats to preserve the region’s ecological integrity.

More importantly, Rodriguez said the open water swim is also expected to drive growth in tourist arrivals by promoting emerging destinations and developing new market segments within the region.

She also said that no corals will be affected because participants will be swimming on the surface of the 10-meter depth sea of Sipalay.

Both governor Lacson and Mayor Lizares said they are excited and expressed full support for the undertaking of DOT-6.

“We are excited to be part of this activity, we will do everything possible to ensure its success, the gain we can get is big as far as ecotourism is concerned,” the governor said.

He added that Sipalay City has the best beaches in the province and through the event, tourists will come and visit and see for themselves what the place can offer.

Lizares on the other hand said she is happy that Sipalay was chosen “because we are trying to strengthen our efforts in positioning as the sports tourism capital of Negros Occidental.”

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