BEIJING, China -- The Philippines proved to be one of the best diving havens in the world as it claimed the “2018 Best Holiday Destination For Diving” award in the 3-day Beijing Diving and Resort Travel Expo 2018 at the Beijing Exhibition Hall on Friday.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) claimed the award, besting more than 120 exhibitors from countries including China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Maldives, and Taiwan who participated in the Beijing DRT Expo.

The three-day expo, which will run until Sunday (Aug. 5), is projected to gather about 25,000 diving enthusiasts and visitors.

Bannered by the theme “Epicenter of the World’s Marine Biodiversity,” the DOT and TPB’s exhibition booth aims to promote environment conservation, among others.

During the product presentation and business networking day, Philippine Ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, said the Philippines is situated at the heart of the Coral Triangle, home to the world’s most vibrant and colorful marine ecosystems and most diverse species of marine wildlife in the world.

“I assure you that no one knows the sea better than the Philippines, one of the few places where you can experience such rich marine biodiversity. I invite our Chinese friends to come to our country -- not just to see our vast underwater fauna, but also to understand the importance of preserving marine life, ” Romana added.

Tomasito Umali, Philippine DOT Attache in Beijing, mentioned that even world-renowned scientific institutions like the California Academy of Sciences in the United States and the Swansea University see the Philippines as the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity and evolution.

“When we say that the Philippines is epicenter or the ‘center of the center of the center of world’s marine biodiversity’ is not grammatically or typographical error. It means that it is in the Philippines as well as between peninsular Indonesia and Malaysia -- more than any other places on earth -- where most number or highest concentration of marine species can be found,” Umali said.

At least eight diving centers and resort exhibitors are participating  in the DRT Show, which include the El Pinoy Resort Anilao, Inc., Kiss Diving Center Shop, Pier Uno Dive Resort, Devocean Divers Malapascua, Arkipelago Divers Inc., Tech Asia, Asia Divers/El Galleon, and the Philippine Airlines.

Chito Aquino, exhibitor and sales director of El Pinoy Resort in Boracay and Batangas, said he has been into various diving expos in the past 20 years, and for the past three years, China has been the biggest market in the Philippines.

“We invited more divers to come to the Philippines, this expo is an effective means to expose the best diving experience in our country, every year the numbers of Chinese divers and tourist in the our country is increasing significantly. For example, in our resort, we are receiving at least 250 Chinese divers-guests every month,” Aquino said.

Allison Manis, exhibitor and owner of Asia Divers-El Galleon in Puerto Galera, was among those given the chance to present in front of Chinese buyers on the “Philippine diving experience,” especially taking photographs under the sea.

Manis showed samples of divers’ superb pictures of various water creatures captured in Anilao, Puerto Galera and Tubbataha Reef.

“Each and every trip to the Philippines, you will learn something new. It’s a destination that you can visit several times to get completely different experiences because it has the riches, most bio diverse waters on the planet. I hope that with the images that I have encourage you to visit the Philippines,” Manis added.

On September 7-9, the Philippines will host the next Diving and Resort Travel Expo. (PNA)