Philippines wins âBest Overseas Diving Areaâ award
This February 2018 file photo shows a peek 50 feet below Anilao, a part the country’s rich biodiversity as the so-called “center of the center of marine biodiversity in the universe.”
Philstar.com/EC Toledo IV, file
Philippines wins ‘Best Overseas Diving Area’ award
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - September 5, 2020 - 5:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines won the Best Overseas Diving Area award in the Marine Diving Awards 2020 held last week in Tokyo.

The country topped the Overseas Diving Category for the first time after it received 814 out of the 3,572 total votes cast by subscribers of the Marine Diving Magazine.

The magazine cited the diving sites in Cebu, Bohol, Moalboal and Busuanga which are teeming with whale sharks, snappers, dugong, other big fishes, large schools of sardines and long mackerels, and other rare and endemic species.

It also described that these sites have “captured the hearts of many divers and make them want to revisit the Philippines again and again. And with its easy access from Japan and reasonable tour prices, the Philippines is no doubt a first pick for many diving lovers.”

Aside from the diving spots mentioned by Marine Diving Magazine, the country is also known for diving sites such as Malapascua off the northern tip of Cebu Island, Anilao in Batangas, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Donsol in Sorsogon and Dauin in Negros Oriental.

Other treasured diving sites are the Apo Reef Natural Park on the western waters of Occidental Mindoro, the world's second largest contiguous coral reef system, and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park which is a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site

The Philippines received the award during the ceremonies at the Marine Diving Fair 2020 held in the district of Ikebukuro in Tokyo.

The Department of Tourism welcomed this new award as a “testimony that diving is more fun in the Philippines.”

“Our underwater landscape is a colorful kaleidoscope of nature's living jewels, one that divers cannot find anywhere else," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo- Puyat said in a statement.

Meanwhile, during the diving fair, the DOT showcased underwater videos of Philippine diving sites while five local resorts held online meetings with visitors.

In December 2019, the country was also named the world's leading diving destination during the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2019.

The country in October last year first bagged its Asia’s Leading Dive Destination award at the WTA’s gala event for Asia and Oceania in Vietnam after multiple nominations since 2006.

“Diving in the Philippines is like a dream come true, where you wake up and dive at the center of the center of global marine biodiversity, and keep wanting to dive again to come back for more,” Puyat said.

Under the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022, diving was included as one of its tourism products.

The DOT said it is set to issue guidelines for the operations of diving establishments to ensure the health and safety of divers under the so-called “new normal.”

"When the situation is better and with the easing of travel restrictions around the world, we hope to again showcase to divers not only our underwater jewels and biodiversity, but also our brand of culture and hospitality,” the tourism chief said.

This statement came just weeks after travel guide book Lonely Planet mentioned diving spots of Puerto Princesa in its article titled "6 national parks around the world with surprisingly spectacular diving.”

The author of the article Angela Ballard also invited tourists to witness the sea life in Moalboal Island.

On Saturday, the DOT announced that the Philippine International Dive Expo’s 2nd edition will be held on a virtual space from Oct. 9 to 11, 2020. 

The tourism chief said that this virtual event is expected to bring in more dive enthusiasts, industry professionals and renowned experts in a ditgital platform.

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM PHILIPPINE TOURISM
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