Can sports tourism help drive NSAs’ development programs?

[Reposting from my old blog.]

What if more National Sports Associations (NSAs) develop a solid partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs) and Department of Tourism regional offices to promote their respective sports in cities and provinces across the Philippines through sports tourism? Imagine the possibilities that such relationships could bring.

Many cities around the world have been doing this for the longest time. Even here in the Philippines, some cities have already moved towards that direction. Some of them steadily making headway in reaching out to both the local and international sporting communities. To mention a few:

  • Subic gaining ground in sports tourism ~ Triathlon is one of the most popular sporting events held regularly in Subic. Over the years, many triathletes from the Philippines and other countries have flocked to Subic to participate in various triathlon events.
  • Camarines Sur: Water sports central of the Philippines ~  One can’t help but admire the city government of Camarines Sur for investing on what turned out to be a world class wakeboarding facility. Now, CamSur is becoming increasingly popular as a water sports destination. CamSur has also been hosting dragon boat events, which have attracted participants from the sport’s local and international  communities.
  • Lapu-Lapu City as sports tourism hub: City’s Sports and Events Bureau to take the lead ~ Cycling is one of the sports immediately associated with Cebu. But it looks like some cities like Lapu-Lapu are setting their sights on promoting other sports as well.
  • Lanao ready for Dragon boat race ~ Like the other forerunners of sports tourism, Lanao deserves sports enthusiasts’ admiration for having both vision and ambition to make the province one of the water sports hub in the country. Let’s hope that more cities take a leaf off Lanao del Sur and the other sport tourism hubs’ book. Maybe it’s time for leaders of local governments and national sports associations to work hand in hand to design programs that would prove beneficial to both the city in particular and to the country in general.

Some might argue that it’s a highly ambitious project that would require vast amount of resources. After all, not all cities and municipalities are equal in terms of budget and revenues. However, some cities who have done it took risks that seem to be paying off. If there’s the slightest chance of success, wouldn’t it be worth a shot regardless of the odds?

To pick another inspiring example to illustrate the potential of sports tourism as a tool to promote sports development, allow me to share some highlights from my umpiring experience in Chungju.

Screenshot of Chungju City’s official website. The city is known not only for its annual World Martial Arts Festival (visit http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=697308 for more info) but also its International Rowing Regatta Centre, which hosted the 2012 Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta. It is also currently preparing to host the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
Facilities at the Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre ~ view of the Finish Tower (left) and Stadium/bleachers area (right) that houses the Organizing Committees various offices as well as other installations during the Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta held on April 2012.
Start area, Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre
Rowers during training, Lake Tangeum
A celebration of culture and sport ~ musicians playing traditional Korean music during a break in the races
A celebration of culture and sport ~ one of the presentations during the Opening Ceremony attended by many VIPs led by the mayor and governor. It was great to see the support of the community judging from the packed open auditorium. (photo credit: Victor Ng, Hong Kong FISA umpire)
Welcome Dinner ~ Chungju City Mayor and other government officials with the International Rowing Federation (FISA) representatives during the ceremonial cutting of the (rice) cake (photo credit: Edgardo Maerina, Philippine Rowing Team Head Coach)
Philippine Team athletes who participated in the 2012 Asian Olympic Qualifying (photo credit: Edgardo Maerina, Philippine Team Head Coach)
How Lake Tangeum International Rowing Regatta Centre would look like once construction is 100% completed in time for the 2013 World Rowing Championships

What I liked most about what Chungju did was that it established a rowing school as part of its tourist attractions. It’s an effort that not only serves its purpose of promoting the city as a water sports destination. It also provides an opportunity for its people to learn more about the sport of rowing.

I’d like to believe that someday, one of the many cities in the country will establish its own rowing school and international rowing centre, too.

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