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Surfing blows tourism horn


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UNLESS there is a contest, one hardly hears about surfing in Barbados.
And quietly, during the past week, the island’s famed Soup Bowl, Parlour and Cattlewash breaks on the East Coast have been playing host to international pro surfers who were revelling in the near perfect 15-ft swells thrown this way by Hurricane Igor.
But their entry and subsequent departure have gone all but unnoticed by anyone except the local surfers who were privileged to share the water with them.
And this is something that the vice-president of the Barbados Surfing Association wants changed.
Simon Coles believes the island should tap into this aspect of the sports tourism market.
Big pro names like Cory Lopez and Chris Ward – Top 44 World Tour surfers; Australian Josh Kerr, another Top 44 World Tour surfer; Andrew Doheny, Alek Parker and Mason Ho spent five days in the island, carving, slashing and getting huge air at the break that American world-class surfer Kelly Slater has deemed to be his favourite spot in the world.
They stayed at hotels, bought food and partied at local night-spots.
And they were not just here for the joy of surfing.
They had tracked Hurricane Igor to these shores, and along with camera crews, were shooting footage for heavyweight magazines Surfer Magazine, Eastern Surf Magazine and Transworld Surf.
Some of the pictures have already been posted on the on-line version of Transworld Surf.
“The swell was so good that footage has gone back all over the world and this means that Soup Bowl, which is internationally recognised, is living up and maintaining its reputation as the No. 6 break in the world,” Coles said, adding that the island would reap immeasurable exposure from the footage.
He noted that not only professional surfers, but intermediate surfers and tourists journeyed to Barbados on a regular basis to surf.
“We should tap into this. We have some of the best waves in the world and I’m seeing more and more people coming here to surf, so we have got to tap into this market.”
“We should have some sort of booth at [the] airport with a constant DVD showing good surf at the island’s top spots.
“We need some kind of form for people entering or leaving the island so they could give us some kind of feedback,” he stressed.
Another positive spin-off, said Coles, was that local surfers had the opportunity to surf with the pros.
This, he said, would enhance the quality of local surfers because they would see “what the international standard is like on our break”.