Saturday, December 7

Event will likely boost state sports tourism

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KUCHING: The 2011 IWWF Sarawak Wakeboard World Cup to be held here on September 16 to 18 will put Sarawak on the world map as a sports tourism destination.

SLEEK: A lady skier performing the Slalom course -Picture courtesy of IWWF

Expected viewing by 500 million people worldwide by live telecast and a special edited programme, the event will be aired in 92countries throughout the whole three days.

“This is going to be a large event as it combines the annual Sarawak regatta as well as in the birthday celebration of the TYT Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak,” said assistant tourism minister, Datuk Talib Zulpilip yesterday.

He also said that the organisers, the International Waterski and Waterboard Federation (IWWF) have checked the Sarawak river and is amazed at the infrastructure as well as the cleanliness of the river.

“This is a major ideal tourism event that brings water sports to Kuching and Sarawak. Capturing international headlines is always an elusive challenge for Tourist Boards around the world,” he said during a lunch at a local hotel recently to announce the successful bid.

“Hosting a World Cup Stop is a clever solution. The reason for this is simply high level media coverage which will firmly put Kuching on the world’s water skiing and wakeboarding map,” he added.

This World Cup Series brings with it a highly valuable TV, Internet and Press package. Two different edited TV products are distributed to over 600 million viewers in all key tourism markets.

A live Webcast will also be implemented for the three days of the event and this will greatly help to highlight Sarawak’s unique features for affluent audiences overseas.

Specialised media releases will also be directed at over 16,000 key contacts in 92 countries before, during and after the event.

He also said that the good infrastructure (waterfront) added the final touch to the decision of the International Waterski and Waterboard Federation (IWWF) to host the event here taking over from Putrajaya who have been hosts twice where the last was in 2010 seeing 14 to 15 teams in the fray.

In a related development, Talib also said that IWWF had given their intention to open up an academy in Sarawak aiming to develop youngsters to take up the sport.

Kuno Ritschard president of IWWF believes that bringing the event here as well as setting up of the academy will be able to spur the interest and develop the sport in Sarawak, which is currently non-existence.

“This will also in turn show to the world that Sarawak is a sports tourism destination,” added Kuno taking advantage of the location of the Sarawak river which runs through the middle of the city making it a breeze to pull in the crowd.

Meanwhile, Des Burke-Kennedy marketing and media chairman of IWWF disclosed that only the top twenty rank skiers and wakeboarders will get a place in this major event.

“We have around 30 million professionals and enthusiasts worldwide; it really depends on how they perform and their ranks to qualify and only the best of the best will have a place in this event,” said Des who could not confirm who and from where the athletes will be from.

He however said that it would be highly expected to see entries from countries such as USA, Canada, Great Britain, Singapore and Malaysia besides the other fourteen smaller countries.

“These people are all professionals and they are fighting real hard to qualify,” added Des enthusing on the prestige of the event.

On the entry of local wakeboarders or skiers into this event, Des said that a wildcard system will be used for the host and hope that some from Sarawak will take up the wildcards to enter the event.

“I believe that with the set up of the academy, youngsters here can get the chance to ski and rub shoulders with the top stars,” he added of the plan, which is still at the infancy stage.