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Philippines named world’s leading diving destination
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Philippines named world’s leading diving destination

MANILA, Philippines, December 2 ------ The Philippines continues to gain attention from the international travel community for its dive offerings as it bagged two awards at the recent World Travel Awards (WTA). The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that the Philippines was named as the 2019 World’s Leading Dive Destination for the first time at the WTA Grand Final Gala ceremony held recently at the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman.

The Philippines bested eight other global dive destinations also nominated under the same category, namely Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Maldives and Mexico. “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,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Meanwhile, Palawan’s prestigious Amanpulo Resort also emerged victorious as the World’s Leading Dive Resort at the gala event. In October, the Philippines earned its first Asia’s Leading Dive Destination award at the WTA’s gala event for Asia and Oceania in Vietnam after multiple nominations since 2006. Dive tourism is identified by the DOT as one of the key areas in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) that can positively affect industry growth in terms of increased visitor count, extended length of stay and higher tourism revenue, among others.

In line with its push for dive tourism, the DOT has hosted a number of dive-centric events including the Anilao Underwater Shootout photography competition and the Travel Trade Support through Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) business-to-business meetings. The DOT also launched the first Philippine International Dive Expo exposition in September, which housed the TRAVEX. The exposition gave foreign buyers the opportunity to see and experience first-hand Philippine dive products and become familiar with the country’s dive destinations, and stressed the Philippines’ competitive advantage in the region, not only as a diving destination but also as a business hub.

“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,” Puyat added. Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. earlier said the DOT will continue to organize familiarization tours, especially to the emerging dive destinations, to be able to expand the footprint of dive tourism in the country.

Bengzon said currently, about five percent of the country’s foreign arrivals participate in diving activities. “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,” Bengzon said. Founded in 1993, the World Travel Awards has been recognizing brands and organizations from the travel, tourism and hospitality industries all over the world that have raised the bar for global tourism standards, through its annual Grand Tour, a series of six regional gala ceremonies with a grand final ceremony held at the end of each tour.

Source: philstar.com