NATURE LOVER. A diving enthusiast checks gears and apparel at the three-day Philippine International Dive Expo 2022 which opened at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on Friday (Aug. 19, 2022). Aside from diving equipment on sale, there are discussions and knowledge-sharing sessions on marine conservation, freediving, and underwater photography. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The Philippines on Friday staged its largest dive expo, reflecting its readiness to welcome more international tourists and divers after two years of closure due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Philippine International Dive Expo (Phidex) 2022, the country’s biggest platform to highlight and promote the dive industry, is being held at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City until Sunday.

"With the theme Back into the Blue: One with the Sea, we see this as an opportune time to stage Phidex to showcase the country's readiness to welcome back international dive tourists as our borders continue to open for leisure," Department of Tourism Undersecretary Shalimar Tamano said during the opening of the event.

Tamano said the DOT continues to recognize dive and marine sports as key tourism products that can deliver large numbers of visitors.

"The country is widely recognized as a premier dive destination in the world and the country has been recognized as the world's leading dive destination by the World Travel Awards, attesting to our standing in the international diving community," he said.

The National Geographic-United Kingdom website, in a June 2020 article, named Malapascua and Moalboal in Cebu; Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Coron in Palawan; Anilao in Batangas; and the dive areas in the provinces of Bohol and Mindoro as among the best diving spots in the Philippines.

“Whether exploring the open ocean on a liveaboard or finning around reefs that fringe pristine sandy beaches, the Philippines is a glorious corner of Southeast Asia waiting to be discovered when we can travel again,” it said.

More than 30 foreign and local experts in marine conservation, freediving, and underwater photography are set to participate in discussion and knowledge-sharing sessions during the expo's conference component.

Sixty-two International buyers and speakers from 19 source markets, namely, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, France, Italy, Israel, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, and Denmark, are also in the event.

Exhibition booths, meanwhile, will showcase dive resorts and centers in 22 different destinations across the Philippines including those in  Batangas, Puerto Galera, Aurora, Palawan, Camiguin, Bohol, and Dumaguete City.

Phidex is the only dive show in the world that combines in one event a Dive Travel Exchange, a business-to-business meeting program for local and international dive operators, dive conferences and seminars, and familiarization tours to top and emerging Philippine dive destinations. (PNA)