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Surfing can bring tourists in wavesto Jamaica
Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
World famous surfer, Ian Walsh, has backed Jamaica to become a popular destination for surfers from around the world, as he believes the country has all the necessary attributes for top-quality surfing.
Walsh, on Thursday, conducted the first of the two-day Red Bull Under My Wing clinics. The clinics are geared at providing some of the most talented young Jamaican and Trinidad and Tobago surfers with an opportunity to interact with a top professional surfer.
Walsh, who came to prominence in 2004 when a picture of him riding a 70-foot wave in Maui, Hawaii earned him the runner-up spot for the Billabong XXL Award, identified the island as a prospective tourist hot spot for surfing.
'Just a matter of time'
"It is a guarantee, it is just a matter of time before people realise. Jamaica is such a big name itself, everybody knows Jamaica, how beautiful it is and people are attracted to the culture and everything," said Walsh. "Once everyone figures out there are waves here, it is going to be huge; I think surfing could be part of the tourism.
"The waves are good here, plenty of power, the reefs are all good and all the local surfers here are talented and they are just good guys, nice people and this is going to be a hot place to be," he added.
The 2008 Surfer Poll 'Heavy Water' award winner believes that the country can only benefit from the promotion of surfing on the island.
Walsh said: "It only helps the country as it creates jobs for everyone. It is a beautiful place, there are plenty of waves and there are so many other reasons to come here, this will just be another reason on a long list. Jamaica matches up as good as anywhere else in the world, the waves are fun and the weather is warm .... really good culture and the food is amazing and the kids are as good as anywhere in the world right now, too."
Walsh will conduct the final clinic today at Makka Beach in South Haven, St Thomas before leaving the island tomorrow.
President of the Jamaica Surfing Association, Billy Wilmot believes it is a great initiative to have the young surfers interacting with a top athlete in their field.
"Obviously if you bring in somebody who is at the top of the game in any particular arena of endeavour and you present that person to people who are just beginning, they stand to achieve quite a bit from interacting with that type of person," said Wilmot. "I think it is extremely important for us to be able to provide these kids with this type of opportunity," he added.