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INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT RACE HOST

DOT eyes Surigao as hub for water sports, sustainable tourism

05:17 AM July 10, 2019
DOT eyes Surigao as hub for water sports, sustainable tourism

PADDLERS’ PARADISE Surigao City has been steadily attracting dragon boat racers as the Surigao del Norte capital hosts the 2nd Surigao International Dragon Boat Festival that has drawn more than 600 participants this year. —ERWIN MASCARIÑAS

SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Philippines — This capital city of Surigao del Norte province, which has been hosting the International Dragon Boat Festival since last year, is being positioned to become a center for water sports as the Department of Tourism (DOT) and local officials push sustainable tourism in the country.

“With our success in hosting this international race for the second year, we want to develop an identity for Surigao City as a water sports hub that is in balance with our ecotourism advocacy,” said Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas Jr.

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He said Surigao, as a coastal city, would be most suited to host not only the dragon boat event but also other water activities in the future. The event this year drew 608 participants.

Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said Surigao City and Surigao del Norte would have big roles to play in the growth of tourism in the Philippines.

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“The dragon boat festival is one of the most sustainable activities that a city, like Surigao, can pursue. It does not involve fuel or anything that could harm the environment. With that, we will support Surigao City and we will focus on sustainable tourism as it is the key to the future. With it, we hope to provide opportunities for everybody,” Boncato said.

DOT records showed that 288,219 tourists visited Surigao City in 2018. Surigao del Norte, with Siargao Island as its major destination, welcomed 206,411 visitors last year.

Ana Nuguid, DOT director for Caraga, said the agency would package the region as a premier sports tourism destination.

She said other international sports events had been drawing visitors to Surigao for several years.

Nuguid said the annual Siargao International Surfing Cup celebrated its 25th year this 2019. “That’s the longest running international independent sporting event in the Philippines,” she said.

She said the province, in April, held the 12th International Game Fishing Tournament in Pilar town, while the third Siargao International Marathon would be held in Del Carmen town on July 13. —Erwin Mascariñas

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TAGS: Department of Tourim, DoT, Ernesto Matugas Jr., International Dragon Boat Festival, Surigao tourism, water sports
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