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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

World surfing meet in Arecibo breaks records, has $72 million economic impact

The number of attendees at the recent International Surfing Association World Surfing Games in Arecibo was estimated to be more than 150,000, the highest attendance in the 60-year history of the competition.

By The Star Staff

The International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games, held recently in Arecibo, had an economic impact estimated at $72 million and broke attendance records, officials said Tuesday.

The economic impact number includes direct impact, indirect impact, induced spending, and impact on international media. Likewise, the hosting of the surfing competition is understood to have a long-term effect on the associated socioeconomic development that could include increases in property values in the area and the arrival of new investors, the officials noted.

“The impact on economic development in Arecibo, as well as in Puerto Rico, reached numbers exceeding the initial estimate of between $10 million and $25 million,” Arecibo Mayor Carlos Ramírez Irizarry said. “Added to this is the long-term impact resulting from the global projection that Arecibo and the island had. It is also important to highlight that we are in communication with the president of the Puerto Rico Surfing Federation and [International] Olympic Committee [member] Richard Carrión, for the holding of future sporting events.”

Grupo Estratega LLC professional planner and president Dennis Román provided the data used to analyze the competition’s economic impact.

According to the information provided to the mayor by Román, the number of attendees was estimated to be more than 150,000 (by the police and the Surfing Federation), making the event the most attended in the 60-year history of the competition.

Traditionally, the International Surfing Association (ISA) estimates that between 20,000 and 100,000 people attend the games. Nine world champions participated in the Arecibo meet, which concluded Sunday.

“I took as a basis for my analysis of the impact on the media and the press, numbers provided by the ISA based on previous experiences. The figure of $72 million of added economic impact could fall short if new economic activity continues to be generated in the coming months,” Román said. “The estimates for the event include the direct, indirect, and induced impact and expenditure on the local economy and the impact on international media. Furthermore, in the long term, I am convinced that it will represent socioeconomic development for Arecibo and the region.”

Another element that characterized the activity was environmental conservation, the mayor pointed out.

“It was a pleasure to watch people of all ages and athletes reforest the mangrove,” Ramírez Irizarry said. “Furthermore, the message on the need to recycle played a leading role since the activity was plastic-free. I definitely reiterate that the celebration was historic, successful and allowed the world to get to know the Villa of Captain Correa.”

Puerto Rico Surfing Federation President Oscar Martínez said the event demonstrated the island’s capacity to stage global-scale events.

“We demonstrated to the world the capacity and attributes that characterize our island for carrying out world-class activities,” he said. “I am convinced this is just the beginning of many other activities in which Arecibo and Puerto Rico will be the headquarters.”

The ISA World Surfing Games were held at Paseo Víctor Rojas in Arecibo from Feb. 23 to March 3. Fourteen athletes qualified to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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