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19 March 2009

Subic ticks advantages for sports-tourism market

Flaunting Subic Free Port’s advantages in terms of accessibility, facilities and a healthy environment, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now vying to corner the multimillion peso sports-tourism market by promoting various sports events here as a destination product.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the Subic Bay Free Port is now luring domestic and international sports tourists, a resilient market that appears to defy the effects of the current economic slowdown.

“This market consists of relatively affluent tourists who are very passionate about health and fitness, and would gladly spend money for love of their sport,” Arreza explained.

“On the other hand, we have here in Subic the perfect sports-tourism mix in place,” Arreza said. “We have a location that is accessible by land, air and sea; we have modern sports facilities and infrastructure, as well as support services like hotels; we have the experience in handling major sports competitions; and, of course, an unrivaled environment that is both secure and safe.”

Arreza bared Subic’s sports-tourism thrust on Monday as he announced various sports
competitions scheduled here this summer.

These include the Philippine Hobie Challenge “Traveler Series-Subic Bay,” held over the weekend; fishing tournaments respectively organized by the Subic Bay Anglers Club and the Manila Anglers Club on March 15 and 21; the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival from April 2 to 5; and the Subic Bay International Triathlon on May 16 and 17.

On top of these, Subic will also host this summer several socio-cultural events and entertainment shows, as well as a photography contest sponsored by the Greater Subic Bay Tourism Board.

“So if you want fun, adventure, as well as sports and fitness, then Subic is the place to be this summer. Best of all, Subic is a family-oriented holiday venue,” Arreza said.

In particular, the four-day Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF) is expected to draw bikers from all over the country, as well as some foreign participants from Dubai and Australia, said Arreza.

“This is the second time that this festival will be held in Subic, and we’re again looking forward to a full-capacity crowd,” Arreza said, pointing out that the Subic Bay Free Port is now more accessible to local tourists because of the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway. “This is another reason for sports enthusiasts and the fun crowd to be coming over to Subic this summer,” he added.

The bike festival, which the organizers dub as Asia’s only multi-discipline cycling event, will feature mountain-bike races such as cross-country, downhill, dirt jumping and 4X; a three-day, four-stage road-bike competition; dirt-jumping and supercross events for BMX; as well as bicycle trials.

To add variety, organizers also incorporated into the festival a standard Olympic-distance triathlon and a bike trade show.

Organizer Gregorio Larrazabal said big-name guests expected to take part in the bike festival include former UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) world champion and mountain-bike hall of famer Hans “No Way” Rey, who will conduct trials, demos and clinics; and current UCI 4X world champion Brian Lopes, considered by USA Today as “undisputedly the best all-around world-class cycling athlete.”

Prizes, meanwhile, include trips to Hong Kong or Boracay, cash ranging from P1,000 to P20,000, bikes and bike parts, gift certificates, as well as trophies for 1st to 3rd placers and medals for 4th to 10th placers.

Larrazabal, who described Subic as “ideal for bike competitions,” also disclosed that the TLBF committee has launched an online registration system through the festival web site www.tlbf.org. to accommodate participants from various Philippine regions, as well as abroad.

Online- registered participants will receive a confirmation by e-mail, with details of the registration and a control number that serves as reference for all transactions connected to the event like race kit and race number, Larrazabal said.

Larrazabal added the festival has also become a vehicle to promote cyclo-tourism in the Philippines, and for promoting the country as a destination for bikers and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world.

As a festival venue, meanwhile, Subic offers more advantages to visiting bikers and their families, said Larrazabal. “Here, they could ride their bikes in the morning, do shopping and recreation in the afternoon, and enjoy fine dining and entertainment in the evening.” (Henry Empeño, Business Mirror)

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