DIVING SPOT. Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 (Central Visayas) Director Shalimar Tamano speaks during the opening of the third leg of the DIVE7 Summer Festivals in Malapascua, a tourism island of Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu on Thursday (May 13, 2021). DIVE7 is a series of dive events being held in the region’s top dive destinations from April to June this year. (PNA photo by Carlo Lorenciana)

MALAPASCUA ISLAND, Cebu – The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 (Central Visayas) has kicked off the third leg of the DIVE7 Summer Festivals in this famous diving destination, as the island province of Cebu looks to revive diving as one of the major tourist draws post-pandemic.

During the launch of the event on Thursday afternoon, DOT-7 Director Shalimar Tamano announced the government’s plan to restore Cebu’s image as a diving destination.

Tamano said the diving industry in the Philippines, particularly in Central Visayas, is one of the key economic drivers in tourism.

“Most of the dive spots found in our region were cited among the top picks by both domestic and foreign travelers,” he said.

The Philippines has for the first time been named as the Best Overseas Diving Area in the Marine Diving Awards 2020 and as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination 2020 in the 27th World Travel Awards.

In line with government efforts to further promote the Philippines, specifically the Central Visayas, as a dive destination, Tamano said the DOT-7 is conducting its first DIVE7 Summer Festivals from April to June this year.

The DIVE7 Summer Festivals is a series of dive events to be held among the top dive destinations in the region – Moalboal, Panglao, Malapascua, Dauin, and Lapu-Lapu City, which will also include a cleanup in Siquijor.

Its goal is to boost the region’s dive industry through a series of events geared to entice domestic scuba and free divers.

These events are being done through collaboration among the DOT-7, local government units of identified dive destinations, the respective provincial governments and offices of DOT, and dive and tourism stakeholders accredited by the Philippine Commission On Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD).

These events are being held from April to June, the peak season for diving in the region.

The event here has multiple activities starting with a photo contest targeting a wider number of divers. This is designed to attract underwater photo enthusiasts and their buddies to dive and shoot, and to include a buoyancy competition in the dive destination.

The second part of the event is focused on attracting new divers and growing the local and domestic dive market. Under this, the “Discover Scuba Diving Course” for adults and “Bubble Makers” for kids are offered.

The third part is to promote sustainable tourism by conducting an underwater cleanup and create awareness, especially in the community, on how to take care of and preserve the marine resources.

“Divers and beachgoers will collect trash to properly dispose (of) it. Ultimately, given the rich marine biodiversity and the need to conserve these resources, these events aim to fully focus on Central Visayas region as a Dive Destination,” Tamano said.

A one-stop shop program is also being conducted during the three-day activity by the DOT-7, along with the PCSSD, Philippine Coast Guard, and the regional offices of the Maritime Industry Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Environmental Management Bureau to assist tourism stakeholders on their application for permits and accreditation.

Participants who want to discover and enjoy the underwater world, including underwater photographers, are urged to register now for their destination of choice.

After its first and second leg in Moalboal, Cebu and Panglao, Bohol, the DIVE7 event will also be held in Dauin, Negros Oriental, Siquijor Island, and Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Based on the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force and concerned LGUs, minimum health protocols are being enforced at all times throughout the event to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019. (PNA)