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House OKs bill declaring La Union the ‘Surfing Capital of the North’

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to declare the province of La Union a tourist destination and the "Surfing Capital of the North."

House Bill 6683, principally-authored by ABONO party-list Representative Vini Nola Ortega, seeks to mandate the Department of Tourism and other concerned agencies to develop La Union as a tourist spot.

According to Ortega, San Juan town in La Union is able to attract tens to thousands of tourists every year during its two surfing seasons: July to October and November to March.

Events, festivals and even competitions during the two surfing seasons are likewise being conducted by the local government, she said.

Ortega's proposal seeks to showcase the beauty of La Union's beaches, as well as to encourage sports, health awareness and appreciation of nature and the environment, and their development for the benefit of the locals and tourists.

The measure provides that within one year of the approval of the act, the DOT, with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other concerned agencies, will be mandated to prepare a tourism development plan.

This plan involves the construction, installation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure created to develop and promote the beaches and surfing activities in the province.

At the same time, the plan must likewise ensure the accessibility and security of the tourists.

The measure also mandates the DOT and the concerned agencies to implement the development plan, merge it with the annual tourism development programs, and source its funding from the annual national budget and from the funds generated by the department.

Other authors of the bill are House Committee on Appropriations chair Karlo Nograles and House Committee on Tourism chair Lucy Torres-Gomez. — BM, GMA News