MANILA – The Philippines has outshone eight other popular dive sites to become the world’s leading dive destination for the very first time at the recent 2019 World Travel Awards (WTA) held at Oman.
Other famous nominees included Azore Islands, Fiji, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Mexico and Maldives.
“Dubbed by marine experts and scientists as the heart of marine biodiversity in the world, our country is home to the highest concentration of coral reef life and astounding variety of marine species. This latest recognition is a validation that the Philippines is truly a premier dive destination,” said Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Meanwhile, Amanpulo Resort located at Palawan – another popular dive spot – clinched the title of World’s Leading Dive Resort at the gala event.
Dive tourism has been earmarked by DOT as one of the key areas for positive industry growth, including extended length of stays and higher tourism revenue. Currently, about 5% of Philippines’ international arrivals participate in diving activities.
As such, the DOT has hosted a series of dive-centric events, which encompass competitions, B2B meetings and expositions, such as the recent Philippine International Dive Expo exposition in September.
“Through the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, we also ensure that diving safety and operating standards in the country are at par with the rest of the world,” added Ms Puyat.
DOT has also expressed plans to continue familiarisation tours, especially to emerging dive destinations. “The challenge for us now is to expand the current base which we estimate at about 350,000 out of the 7.1 million foreign visitors and also to make them stay longer and spend more,” explained tourism undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr.