La Union to Host First-Ever Surfing Tournament in the SEA Games

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The surfing capital of the North is ready to make waves with local and foreign athletes.

La Union is set to host the surfing competitions of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2019 from December 2 until December 10, Inquirer reports. A first in the history of the decade-long event, the tournaments will be happening at the Urbiztondo beach, San Juan, with about 60 surfers from six countries participating. 

In an article from the local government’s website, the competing countries include Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia, and of course the Philippines. Members of the PH surfing team Jay-R Esquivel and Daisy Valdez are from the province.

It’s expected that 4,000 onlookers, locals and foreign nationals, will be attending the competition.

Gearing up for the Games

As the Philippine News Agency shared, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) and law enforcement officials in La Union drafted a security plan to ensure the safety of the athletes and spectators during the event. Creating Task Group La Union, they hope to organize all efforts and exercise efficiency in response to concerns.

Overseeing the task group is Brigadier General Joel Orduña. Colonel Ysmael Yu is assigned to on-ground security and public safety, while the commander of Naval Forces Northern Luzon Commodore Caesar Bernard Valencia will supervise water security and safety. Director of the Office of the Civil Defense Melchito Castro, on the other hand, is in charge of the emergency preparedness and response.

Meanwhile, the members of the task group will offer safety and security measures for specific clusters, including traffic, parking, billeting, and evacuation.

According to the article from the local government’s website, La Union Police Provincial Office, for its part, will be giving assistance to the public 24/7 in strategic spots in the municipality. There are also first-aid stations set up by the Provincial Health Office for medical support. Over a hundred healthcare staff will be on standby.

At the same time, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine Coast Guard are both ready to respond to emergency situations.

Marking a First in History

La Union being a venue cluster in this year’s games is considered a milestone event. As mentioned, it is the first time in its history that surfing was included in the roster of competitions. The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHIGSOC) picked La Union beach for the sports meet because of its favorable wave conditions. Compared to other beaches, it is the best playing field for competitions.

It is also a historic occasion for the reason that the 2019 games mark the first major decentralization of the sports meeting. As the Business World Online reported, venues are scattered throughout 23 cities across the country. Four clusters were formed, concentrated on the island of Luzon. This includes Metro Manila, Clark, Subic, and Batangas-La Union-Tagaytay.

Bolstering Tourism Efforts

Given the expected influx of tourists to La Union, the Department of Tourism Region 1 has instructed accommodations providers, like hotels and resorts, to be prepared, as cited in the article from the local government’s website.

The department also deployed tour guides to help athletes, supporters, and game organizers, should the SEA games participants want to go to key destinations in the province during their free time. The government considers the games as a promising opportunity to show why it’s more fun in the Philippines. With tourism bolstered, the possibility of attracting investors strengthens and other business industries, like the property sector, can see a demand.

In a report from Business Mirror, it is projected that the regional sports meet will rake in over Php 894 million for the hospitality industry. The DOT projects a total of 137,563 room nights to hotels in the venue clusters picked for the games. The estimated figure doesn’t include food and transportation costs yet.

SEA Games officials expect over 8,750 athletes and team officials participating in the event, as well as 2,050 technical officers.

Secretary of the Department of Tourism Bernadette Romulo-Puyat urged hoteliers to be on their best foot forward, “ensuring that the Filipino brand of hospitality is exercised.” On November 27, she met with hotel representatives and organizations to discuss tourism-related matters concerning the sports meet. 

Among those included are the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc., Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, and the Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers.

Sources: Inquirer, LaUnion.gov.ph, Philippine News Agency, BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror
Main photo via Wikipedia

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