Anilao, Batangas (Photo courtesy of DOT)

MANILA – The Philippines has once again secured the title of the world's leading dive destination at the prestigious 2021 World Travel Awards (WTA).

“This distinction is indeed a great privilege, yet, it underlines our great responsibility of protecting and conserving our underwater resources so that these will also be enjoyed and experienced in their pristine natural state by future generations,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said Thursday as she welcomed the citation.

This is the third consecutive year that the Philippines won the said award.

It bested other dive destinations in the world, such as the Maldives, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, and Mexico.

The Philippines boasts of having the best diving destinations with biologically diverse marine and aquatic resources.

It not only belongs to the magnificent Coral Triangle—dubbed as the Amazon of the Ocean that is home to 600 coral species, 2,000 reef fish species, and six out of the world’s seven species of marine turtles—but is also, as marine scientists have pinpointed, at the center of it, making the country home to the richest marine ecosystem on the planet.

Top diving spots in the country include the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, Anilao in Batangas, Malapascua and Moalboal in Cebu, Balicasag, Panglao, and Anda in Bohol, and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.

Aside from these popular dive destinations, some of the country's emerging dive sites are Samal and Talikud Island in Davao del Norte; Balingoan, Talisayan, Medina, Magsaysay, and Gingoog in Misamis Oriental; and Camiguin.

The DOT, for its part, vowed to further identify potential destinations that may be developed for dive tourism.

The award came as the Philippine government last month successfully vaccinated over 95 percent of workers employed in accredited dive establishments across the country. (PNA)