THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 is wooing tourists through sports.
DOT 7 Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano yesterday said the agency is planning to bid for Cebu’s hosting of the 2019 International Arnis Competition to introduce arnis to the world.
Tamano urged local tourism stakeholders to help the agency promote arnis, commonly known as stick fighting, to lure more sports enthusiasts to visit the province.
“We are formally endorsing a new product that is real Cebuano, which is arnis,” said Tamano, during the Tourism Innovation Summit held at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu yesterday.
Arnis, also known as kali or eskrima, is originally known as arnis de mano or “harness of the hand.” It is the art of incorporating empty-handed fighting as well as techniques with a variety of weapons specializing in short sticks and knife techniques.
Arnis was declared a national martial art and sport in 2010. The law was authored by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“For me, arnis is a culture at the same time sport,” said Tamano, who is also a member of a martial arts group.
Despite the sport’s roots in the Philippines, arnis has become widely known in the international sphere, with some organizations holding international competitions.
Arnis is also often showcased in foreign action films like in Bruce Lee’s movies and the Bourne films.
“This has become an international product that has not received proper attention,” he said. “It is absurd that it is Hollywood that promotes arnis.” Some local arnis practitioners will travel to Hawaii next month to participate in the international arnis competition.
“It is about time that we take it back. We insist that all kali, arnis, eskrima practitioners around the world visit Cebu and Mactan for pilgrimage to see the real arnis masters and grandmasters who are Cebuanos,” said Tamano.
Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Alliance of Tour Operation Specialists Inc., looks forward to this, saying that this would boost Cebu’s image as a sports tourism destination.
Besides the presence of arnis practitioners in Cebu, the province is already home to world-class athletes, a reflection of Cebu being a hotbed of sports talents and a viable destination to host big-ticket sports events like marathons.
Local government units like the City of Naga have pursued sports tourism, not because of its popularity, but for the promotion of sports activities allow them to help develop the youth by instilling in them the discipline and importance of physical and mental health and wellness.
The City, likewise, bundled its sports tourism program with other tourism activities like culture and heritage.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said sports tourism is a $600-billion market that is expected to expand by an average of 5.3 percent annually.
It is projected to grow 6.1 percent from 2013 to 2020, and by 4.7 percent from 2020 to 2030.