MANILA-- The Diving Resort and Travel (DRT) Show 2018, dubbed as the largest dive exposition in the Philippines, opened at the SM Megamall Megatrade Hall on Friday.

The DRT Show is held in seven cities every year and is considered as the "most important event" in the Philippine diving industry, which is making its mark as an ideal dive destination in Asia.

"This is in line with the Department of Tourism's (DOT) vision to develop and promote the Philippines as a premier diving and business hub in Asia," DOT Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said during his keynote speech.

In an interview, he told reporters that the agency is eyeing to further promote undiscovered dive sites in Mindanao for the next editions of the DRT.

"In the next editions, we can bring our buyers to more and more dive destinations in the Philippines. This year we are bringing them to dive sites here in Luzon and the Visayas," he added.

Boncato mentioned the growing popularity of Samal and Talikud Island in Davao del Norte, which is ideal for dive enthusiasts who are into macrophotography. He also cited Camiguin Island as another dive site that is not as crowded as other areas in the country.

In terms of market source, the official said the Philippines is currently hosting nationalities "from, basically, all over the world." However, more groups are coming from Russia and other North Asian states, he added.

Last year, the DRT Show Philippines gathered 154 exhibitors from local and international diving brands, and about 21,500 visitors from all over the world, such as Australia, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, United States, and Russia.

At the DRT Show 2018, visitors can find internationally famous diving gear brands, including Aqua Lung, Aquamundo, Apeks, Beuchat, Garmin, GoPro, Inon, Shearwater, Scubapro, Suunto, Sherwood, Sea & Sea, and Tusa; and renowned liveaboards, such as Maldives Cruiser and Sea Safari Cruises.

At least 45 Philippine diving resorts, invited by the DOT, were also present.

Aside from hosting a dive mart, the expo also seeks to raise the awareness of visitors by providing information regarding marine life through the activity, "Be an Ocean Saver", to be conducted by conservational exhibitors, such as Greenpeace, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, Pure Oceans, Reef Checks, Save Philippine Seas, and WWF Philippines.

The exposition will run from September 7 to 9. (PNA)