One Visayas to promote unified diving package

Ehda Dagooc (The Freeman) - December 19, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - One Visayas, an initiative created by regions 6, 7, and 8, aims to promote diving as top priority tourism offer for the three regions.

In an interview with Department of Tourism   regional director Rowena Montecillo yesterday, she said that the three regions will join hands in promoting diving as top attraction taking advantage of the country’s attractive dive sites.

She added that the regional offices of One Visayas will develop a unified diving tour package in coordination with the travel agencies and local government units to attract the long staying diving guests to hop from one diving site to another within the Visayas.

Central Visayas (region 7), Eastern Visayas (region 8), and Western Visayas (region six), will have a unified package maximizing the potential of diving in the region.

Based on the national tourism plan, diving is identified as one of the top in demand tourism activities in both local and foreign tourists.

Montecillo said divers are also one of the high-spenders and long staying visitors. A diver can stay in a destination  from seven to 10 days  but at present divers only stay from one to three days, spending about US$200 a day.

The Philippines is catching up in maximizing its potential as number one diving destination in Asia, being the pioneer in introducing scuba diving activities in the region.

The Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving  recently announced it is updating the Implementing Rules and Regulations which was established in 1978 during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, to conform with the different dynamics, hobbyists demands, and even the industry's terminologies.

In an interview with PCSSD commissioner Benedict Reyes, he said that the Philippines could have gotten the number one position as the scuba diving destination in Asia, if this particular segment in the tourism industry was taken cared of.

  Reyes confirmed that the Visayas is the top pick diving destination for hobbyists aside from the famous Tubbataha reef in  Palawan, saying the region offers wide choices of good diving sites both for leisure diving or for professional divers.

In Asia, Reyes said the Philippines is the pioneer in introducing the scuba diving activity, influenced by the existence of US military bases in the Philippines mostly during the regime of Marcos. But this, potential has not been taken cared of as part of the revenue contributor in tourism industry, as other countries like Thailand had been successful in promoting and developing its scuba diving attraction.

 Reyes, who is the private sector commissioner of the PCSSD, admitted that the Philippines is lagging behind in terms of tapping its potential to seize the multi-million-dollar scuba diving tourist market. But, the country can still catch up if both the government and private sectors will work hand-in-hand in promoting the sector.

 The DOT is on its active bid to promote the Philippines as preferred diving destination in the world, capitalizing on the country's rich marine biodiversity.

Tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez recently announced that the Philippines will make diving as one of the frontliners of the country for its international tourism promotions.

 Jimenez said the tourism department would now be banking on the Philippines being the center of biodiversity in their marketing strategy.

“We will make diving in the Philippines, a major force for tourists to come,” the tourism chief said.

The revenue in diving makes up a quarter of the total tourism revenue.  Divers accounts to not less than five percent of the country’s tourists.

   The Philippines ranks high among scuba diving enthusiasts all over the world.

  Central Visayas region has four top diving spots known in the world, these are the Malapascua Islet, Moalboal, Balicasag Island (Bohol), and Apo Island (Negros).

  Scuba diving accounts only for 10 percent of the total tourist arrival to the Philippines. (FREEMAN)

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