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International surfing event seen to boost Siargao tourism

/ 05:02 AM September 22, 2022
As the sun rises, a surfer walks across the shallow tidal flats of General Luna town on Siargao Island. STORY: International surfing event seen to boost Siargao tourism

MORNING SURF |As the sun rises, a surfer walks across the shallow tidal flats of General Luna town on Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province, toward a boat that will bring her and other tourists to a popular surf break. (Photo by ERWIN MASCARIÑAS / Inquirer Mindanao)

DEL CARMEN, Surigao del Norte, Philippines — A total of $10,000 (P578,610) in prize money is up for grabs during the country’s biggest international surfing competition that returns to Siargao Island this year after more than two years of travel and health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Siargao International Surfing Cup set on Oct. 15 to 21 is expected to draw surfers from different parts of the world to the country’s surfing capital, said Gerry Degan, the event director.

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He said among those expected to come would be surfers vying for added points to their surfing resumé, since winners from each qualifier would get additional 1,000 points to their records. The event, which gets a 1,000 ranking in the International Qualifying Series, will hopefully boost tourist arrivals on the island, a top tourism official also said.

“I am so happy that we can run the Siargao event this year after a couple of unexpected years,” Degan said.

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“Between COVID-19 and Typhoon [Odette, internationally known as Rai] which hit the Visayas and Mindanao in December 2021), the island has been really suffering. Thankfully, the people are resilient and now we see some light. The surfing event will bring back some normalcy to the island and signals the continuing rise of Siargao and its people,” said Degan, who served as the competition’s director for the last 17 years.

“Having the WSL [World Surf League] circuit return to Cloud 9 in General Luna will be one step toward bigger events in the future and this year’s competition is already a sign of what’s to come,” he said.

This year’s event, Degan said, is special as this will feature women surfers.

Rooting for locals

“What’s exciting is that we expect locals to give out their best as the event has been won by locals quite a few times in the past, so I expect the local surfers to be there,” he said.

Ty Sorati, tour manager for Asia Pacific of WSL, said: “We’re expecting a good spread of competitors from Asia as well as a handful of competitors from other parts of the world. WSL is excited to include the women’s division again this year, as it will give long overdue recognition to Philippine and Asian women surfers.”

Local surfers who competed in international surfing circuits and Olympic qualifiers are expected to showcase their skills on their home turf during the event.

Among them is 2019 International Surfing Cup defending champion John Mark Tokong, who bagged a gold medal in the Phuket Beach Festival 2022 in Thailand.

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Nelia Arina, the Department of Tourism regional director in Caraga, said the return of the international surfing competition in Siargao would help in the recovery of tourism activities in the region.

“For years, the surfing event in Siargao has been considered one of the biggest international sporting events linked to tourism. Unfortunately, the restrictions brought about by the pandemic practically stopped the holding of this annual event in the last two years. The catastrophic destruction brought by Typhoon Odette also aggravated the sufferings of the people of Siargao,” Arina said.

“We are certain that the return of foreign surfers for the competition will help promote the island,” she added.

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TAGS: Siargao International Surfing Cup, Siargao tourism
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