DOT: Batangas now welcomes divers from areas under GCQ
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/Efigenio Toledo IV, file

DOT: Batangas now welcomes divers from areas under GCQ

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - October 14, 2020 - 9:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Wednesday announced that divers even from areas under general community quarantine are now allowed to visit the diving community in Batangas.

The agency said divers can now dust off their masks, fins, snorkels, regulators and other gears as popular dive sites in Batangas are now prepared to welcome tourists.

Batangas is home to Luzon’s best dive sites, including Balayan Bay, Cathedral Rock, Beatrice Rock, Twin Rocks and Mainit Muck.

The announcement came after Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, as Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), signed PCSSD Administrative Order No. 2020-001 or the Guidelines on the Operations of Dive Establishments Under a Community Quarantine.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) also earlier approved Resolution No. 78, which provides for the DOT to determine the destinations in GCQ areas where recreational diving may be allowed.

The same resolution indicated that specific areas under GCQ and modified GCQ, dive establishments and resorts may accept guests from either GCQ or MGCQ areas for recreational diving purposes.

Prior to this, the IATF-EID banned travel between areas under GCQ and MGCQ for purposes of recreational diving.

Rules for divers, tourists

“Dive establishments in Batangas Province, insofar as the area is still under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), are hereby determined to be permitted to accept guests for Recreational Diving, taking into consideration the general preparedness of the area and its impact on the tourism industry,” Puyat said.

Mabini Tourism went ahead last Saturday and also announced that its tourism strip called Anilao, a world-renowned diving destination dubbed the “birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines,” would start accepting tourist on October 12, Monday.

This tourist destination is also considered as the center of marine diversity where divers from all over the world would go to find those rare underwater species in person.

In its announcement, Mabini Tourism said only it will only accept guests with booking confirmations, 72-hour swab test result and medical clearance.

The DOT released the Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Dive Establishments in the New Normal on Tuesday which requires divers to bring their own diving gears such as a set of scuba gear and equipment box. Use of hand disinfectants and hand washing, practice of physical distancing, and wearing of protective face masks when not on an actual dive are required throughout the day.

For its part, the DOT said it supports the diving community in Batangas.

“We express our support to the diving community in Batangas, one of the premier diving destinations in the country. We remain optimistic yet cautious of its reopening to recreational diving,” Puyat said.

Puyat reminded visitors to follow the “Test Before Travel” policy while dive establishments are likewise reminded that only those with a valid DOT and/or PCSSD Accreditation will be permitted to operate.

“While guests of all ages from GCQ and MGCQ areas are welcome, the activity is off-limits to those with comorbidities and currently pregnant,” the tourism chief said.

According to DOT, there are six dive establishments and two liveaboards accredited by PCSSD in Region IV-A or CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).

On the other hand, a total of 241 dive establishments and ten liveaboards are accredited nationwide.

The tourism chief said the DOT accreditation certifies that the dive establishments are conforming to the minimum health and safety guidelines and are ready to accept guests again.

She invited the dive resorts and stakeholders to take advantage of the free and newly launched online DOT-accreditation platform at https://accreditation.tourism.gov.ph.

Meanwhile, the DOT said that through its regional office for CALABARZON, a digital contact tracing application was provided to the Mabini, Batangas local government unit for a more efficient tracing measure.

In February this year, Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas and  Vice Gov. Mark Leviste both said they are eyeing to boost tourism in the diving sites of the province. This, after the province was badly hit by the January Taal Volcano eruption.

BATANGAS BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT NEW NORMAL PHILIPPINE TOURISM
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