BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL / Manila Bulletin
KALIBO, Aklan - To spur development in the province's entire tourism industry, the provincial government and tourism stakeholders formed the Aklan Provincial Tourism Council.
The tourism council is an offshoot of General Ordinance No. 2009-003 enacting the Tourism Code of Aklan and approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan on April 2, 2009.
Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez heads the tourism council, Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo-Quimpo as vice chairperson while Vicky Ramos-Antonino was elected co-chairperson.
Elected board of directors are Dr. Ambrosio Villorente of Aklan Press Club, Albert Menez of Kalibo Ati-Atihan Tourism Council, Bong Tirol of Shangri-La Boracay Beach Resort and Spa and Erlinda Quimpo Fernandez-Wilson of Boracay Foundation Inc.
Villorente said the council is composed of 40 members from the government, tourism stakeholders, business community and the private sector tasked to formulate tourism plans and programs for the province.
"The adoption and enactment of the Aklan Tourism Code is expected to develop the sustainable, progressive and profitable tourism industry in Aklan," he said.
Tourism and agriculture are two priorities in the five-year program of the Marquez administration to make Aklan a billionaire province by 2013.
The tourism industry would also soon get a boost with the completion of new passenger terminal building and the entry of additional chartered flights from China and Taiwan to the Kalibo International Airport.
Aside from the famed island resort of Boracay, the towns of Libacao, Malay, Nabas, Ibajay, Tangalan and Kalibo are potential eco-tourism destinations.
Department of Tourism data show that in the first six months this year, tourist arrivals in Boracay Island registered 383,813.
Aklan is also famous for the annual Ati-Atihan festival, held every January, in the towns of Ibajay, Malinao, Malay, Makato, Altavas and Kalibo, in honor of Seņor Sto. Niņo.