THE Department of Tourism (DoT) is preparing Antique, Northern Mindanao and Misamis Oriental as the next go-to diving sites to sustain the Philippines' standing as the leading dive destination in the region.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco made the announcement during the 1st Philippine Tourism Dive Dialogue held at Fili Hotel in Cebu City on September 14 and 15.

Discussions centered on marine environmental protection and conservation and dive niche products such as free diving, scuba diving, black water (deep sea) diving, and underwater photography; domestic and international marketing campaigns; safety, standards and accreditation of tourism-related enterprises for scuba diving; and investment opportunities.

The DoT, Frasco said, will push for the development of less known but equally beautiful diving sites to expand the dive tourism portfolio in the country, eventually spurring economic growth and provide livelihood opportunities for local residents.

Through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), the procurement of hyperbaric chambers has started to ensure the safety of divers to further strengthen the dive industry in the country.

"While we continue to support our already well-known destinations, we want to be able to develop new destinations by ensuring that we have the proper infrastructure, government support and regulation," Frasco said in her keynote address.

She said that DoT wants to make sure that divers are safe, whether they are beginners, amateurs or professionals.

"I'm very pleased to inform you that procurement is now underway for delivery by 2024 for additional hyperbaric chambers for the following areas: Dumaguete, Boracay, Puerto Galera and Daanbantayan," Frasco said.

Tieza has provided hyperbaric chambers in dive sites across the country to ensure that scuba divers will have access to affordable treatment for decompression sickness by removing excess nitrogen in the body through recompression.

The four operational hyperbaric chambers can be found in Mabini, Batangas; Panglao, Bohol; Mandaue, Cebu; and Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Emerging markets

Another goal of the DoT-led dive dialogue was to capture new tourist markets, specifically for diving.

"The focus of the Department of Tourism is to target various markets, whether that be families, solo travelers, luxe travelers, barkadas (groups of friends) and the like. And we have very specific programs that are targeted to various niche markets specifically for dive. We have dive enthusiasts from all over the world and many jurisdictions including North Asia, as well as Europe, to whom dive has been a very strong product for the Philippines," she said.

The DoT will open up to new markets, especially in Europe and the Middle East, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) by mounting more flights.

Frasco said collaboration and coordination with concerned government agencies such as the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Transportation (DoTr) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are important to prepare the necessary infrastructure, policies and guidelines.

The Philippines, for the fifth straight year in a row, was named as Asia's Leading Dive Destination at the prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA) 2023.

In 2022, the dive industry contributed an estimated P37 billion in tourist receipts from international dive visitors, which constituted over 17.5 percent of the country's entire tourism receipts last year.

2023-09-17T16:15:00Z dg43tfdfdgfd