MANILA-- The recent dive spot title bagged by the Philippines is seen to boost efforts to promote the country as a center of marine biodiversity, a Department of Tourism (DOT) official said as she hailed Manila's recent win at the 2019 World Travel Awards.
"It's a really welcome award that we would like to highlight since we just finished the Philippine Dive Expo, the biggest event that we're doing this year," DOT Assistant Secretary Verna Buensuceso said in an interview on Monday.
The Philippines was recognized as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination for the first time, following a number of nominations in both Asia and the World’s Leading Dive Destination award since 2006.
To spur its efforts to introduce sustainable dive tourism in the Philippines, Buensuceso said Manila will be joining the 2019 Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) show in the United States this November.
"We'll continue with our promotions with different dive events. We're doing DEMA in the US so that's this coming November," she said.
Based on a 2017 study by Melville and Andrea Saayman of the North-West University-Tourism Research in Economics, Environs, and Society, there are more than 10,000 dive operators serving six million divers globally.
This makes the scuba diving tourism a multi-billion-dollar industry.
The study also said the US alone has at least 3.34 million divers valued at USD2.6 billion, with the average diver spending between USD100 and US200 per day.
In 2018, about 350,000 of the seven million foreign tourists visited the Philippines to dive.
Among the popular diving and snorkeling sites in the country is Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro which features shallow coral gardens, rock formations, and colorful species like crabs, shrimps, sea anemones, moray, and trumpet fishes.
Another diving spot is in Anilao, Batangas, with abundant multi-hued crinoids that are best for macro photography.
According to the DOT, the variety of nudibranchs in this destination is "unmatched" as well as the night dives where unusual creatures like sea hares, sea goblins, catfish eels, ghost pipefishes, blue-ringed octopuses, mandarin fishes, and snake eels reveal themselves.
There is also the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO Top Diving Site and the Philippines' only marine natural park. (PNA)