THE Department of Tourism (DOT)-Eastern Visayas has launched a training program for surfing instructors as part of promoting the region into one of the top surfing destinations in the country.

“For us to make our region a surfing destination, people must not only come here to surf, but they must also learn how to surf. This training upgrades the skills of our local surfers who had been surfing for a very long time,” said Karina Rosa Tiopes, regional tourism director.

DOT-Eastern Visayas has also partnered with the Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI) for the said event.

The respective surfing organizations chose at least 34 surfers from three provinces of the region to participate in the first training batch held in Sulangan, Guiuan.

Participants are from Borongan City, Llorente, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar; Tanauan and Dulag in Leyte; and Silago in Southern Leyte.

The Philippine Red Cross and the Philippine Coast Guard also provided pre-requisite training on basic first-aid, basic water life support, and water safety rescue.

“I’m very happy and thankful that I was chosen to participate in the training. I hope to share the knowledge that I learned with other people who wanted to learn to surf,” said Jesus Lawrence Quitorio, 26, of Borongan.

“This will be a lifetime knowledge for us who are doing surfing instruction,” added Jamaica Salceda of Tanauan.

For over 10 years now, DOT-Eastern Visayas had been promoting the potential of the surfing industry in the region.

These region’s surfing sites include the stretches from Borongan to Guiuan, down to Dulag and Silago.

According to Tiopes, there are also secret surfing areas where only local surfers know their locations.

“There’s a lot of barriers that have to be addressed such as hazard and risks in the surfing environment. Besides teaching in difficult areas, surfers have also need to learn to assess the risks of the location where they are teaching,” said Paolo Manuel Soler of the ASI.

As licensed surfing instructors, the participants can also practice their profession in 20 other countries, such as Australia, the US, and other European nations where ASI is active.

Meanwhile, Tiopes urged surfing establishments to include additional services such as the creation of tour packages in other tourism sites and destinations in the region “to make their stay more memorable and would encourage them to stay longer or return.” (SunStar Philippines)