The laid-back ambiance and religious relics are among the attractions, drawing more tourists to Antique after the health pandemic.
Antique Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (APTCAO) consultant Niklaus de los Reyes Torres said in an interview Thursday that a partial report on tourist arrivals from January to September 2023 surpassed the number of visitors in 2022.
Overnight tourist arrivals in the first three quarters of 2023 reached 82,170 compared with 76,369 arrivals in 2022 and 22,662 in 2021.
Same-day visitors for the same period in 2023 reached 697,414 but may reach one million once all 18 municipalities submit their reports.
In 2022, the province recorded 610,993, and 225,307 in 2021.
“Antique is gifted with 244 plus kilometers shoreline and around the same length of mountain ranges that the tourist wanting to have a cup of coffee and rest in a quieter destination opt to go to the province after spending some time in Boracay island in Aklan province or Iloilo City,” he said.
He added that Antique is fortunate it is in the itinerary of tour packages going to Aklan or Iloilo City because of its location.
Tourists also have the option to visit the best beaches, watch the sun change its color, and have a boat ride to the white sand beaches of the islands of Semirara, Caluya, Batbatan, and Nogas, considered the small gems of the province.
Tourists may also opt to trek the mountain of Aningalan, considered the “Little Baguio” because of the cool climate and beautiful scenery.
“Antique’s destinations are not yet so congested that one could still hear the sound of nature,” he said.
Tourists can go on religious pilgrimage and visit sites like the San Blas De Antique, the miraculous patron saint of the Municipality of Sebaste that draws an average of 500,000 guests annually.
During the Holy Week, relics of century-old saints or even more kept through generations of families belonging to the Roman Catholic and the Philippine Independent Church are added attractions.
The newest attraction is the life-size statues of the 10 Bornean datus, installed during the 2022 Binirayan Festival in Barangay Malandog, Hamtic, the first Malay settlement in the country.
“Tourists also make it a point to have a stopover to see the statues of the Bornean datus in Malandog,” he said. (PNA)