Sunday, October 19, 2008

New airport to open near Siargao, the country’s surfing capital

10/19/08 SIARGAO ISLAND, Philippines – An airport is set to open near Siargao next year, allowing both foreign and local tourists to fly straight from Manila to the Philippines’ surfing capital.

Located in Del Carmen municipality, the Sayak Airport is currently being upgraded to meet international standards, local officials told Manila-based reporters. Del Carmen is near General Luna municipality in Siargao, where the famed “Cloud 9″—a big wave favored by surfers—usually occurs. Costing an estimated P60 million, the airport upgrade involves extending the runway by 150 meters to comply with safety requirements.

Funds for the project were sourced from the national government since the tarmac extension is one of the many commitments promised by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a State of the Nation Address.

Besides being expected to be fully operational early next year, Philippine Airlines has already made a promise to mount Manila-Surigao City-Siargao flights, Ping Espejon, General Luna mayor told reporters.

Asian Spirit is also looking to serve Sayak airport.

Foreign tourists generally prefer to fly straight to Siargao rather than changing planes to reach the destination, Romeo Edillor, the province’s tourism operations officer said.

Currently, the entire Surigao del Norte province—where Siargao is located—is visited by 120,000 foreign and local tourists, many of whom participate in Siargao’s national and international surfing competition every September.

This year, a local, 20-year Edito Alcala bested 47 foreign nationals from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and the US. He was given $7,500 as prize money and Surigao del Norte province gave him another P100,000 as a bonus.

Espejon also said that to further boost the reputation of Siargao as a prime tourist destination, General Luna is cooking up other activities such as kayaking, wakeboarding, and scuba-diving, to attract other visitors besides surfers. - GMANews.TV

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