Siargao hosts international dragon boat race to boost tourism
BUTUAN CITY—Aiming to widen its tourism offering outside of being Southeast Asia’s top surfing destination, the town of Dapa in Surigao del Norte province’s Siargao Island will launch the First International Dragon Boat Festival this coming weekend.
The event, from July 14 to July 16, comes after Dapa’s successful hosting of the First National Dragon Boat Regatta last year, in an effort to rise from the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) in December 2021 and the earlier COVID-19 lockdowns.
A total of 23 dragon boat teams from the Philippines, three from Singapore, one from Hong Kong and another from Dubai will compete in the event which is expected to bump up the town’s visitor arrivals.
“The event will bring significant economic benefits to the town, attracting more business and tourism ventures,” said Irvin Bendanillo, municipal tourism officer.
Bendanillo said the success of Dapa’s first dragon boat race venture in 2022 had led the town to create a blueprint in staging an international competition.
“We are now more confident in hosting the international dragon boat festival since we have already organized the national event last year. We have learned lessons from our previous experience, which has allowed us to be better prepared for any challenges now,” he said.
Cultural exchange in Siargao
Bendanillo, citing travel arrangements, said most of the competing teams would be staying in Dapa while some opted to be near the surfing spots in nearby General Luna town.
To cater to an expected rise in tourist arrivals in the years ahead, the Dapa local government is building a three-story hotel, he added.
Ivonnie Dumadag, the Department of Tourism regional director in Caraga, said they were thrilled that Siargao would host the event.
“Siargao is already an internationally recognized destination, and we are delighted to expand its appeal by supporting this prestigious dragon boat competition. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and vibrant local culture, Siargao provides the perfect backdrop for an event of this magnitude,” she said.
The dragon boat competition, she added, will also feature cultural exchanges, showcasing the rich heritage and traditions of Siargao and the Caraga region. This year’s race will feature three main categories—open, all-women and mixed—with the race distance extended from 200 meters last year to 300 meters.