THE Philippines, for the fifth consecutive year was tagged as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination at the preeminent World Travel Awards (WTA) Asia & Oceania Gala.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced the remarkable feat on Wednesday (Sept. 6), following the WTA Asia & Oceania Gala Ceremony 2023 that took place at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
“The Philippines’ fifth consecutive win as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination further affirms the unparalleled beauty and megabiodiversity of our country loved by divers and tourists all over the world,” said Frasco, who is a dive advocate and certified diver herself.
Frasco added that “this is a testament to the Philippines’ commitment to sustainable tourism development and our strengthened collaboration with tourism stakeholders. From our ridges to our reefs, you will never run out of reasons to Love the Philippines!”
Elevating the Dive tourism portfolio
Under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s administration, Frasco, who is a certified diver, has been leading the DOT in elevating the country’s dive tourism industry.
The DOT created the first-ever Dive Committee that will align its dive product development and promotion thrusts with its attached agencies, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, and the Philippine Commission for Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD).
The DOT will likewise convene the country’s national dive stakeholders in the first-ever Philippine Dive Dialogue in Cebu next week to consolidate all the efforts of the national government, local governments, and private sector partners.
Moreover, the DOT, through its infrastructure arm, TIEZA, eyes the installation of additional hyperbaric chambers that will improve scuba diving safety standards in strategic dive locations, such as Dumaguete and Daanbantayan in Cebu, by 2024.
The agency has also launched its own dive expo brand, the Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX), the world’s only dive show that combines a dive travel exchange, a business-to-business (B2B) meeting program, dive conferences and seminars, exhibition booths, and familiarization tours to key and emerging Philippine dive destinations. The fourth edition of PHIDEX is scheduled for February next year.
The Department continuously hosts regional dive-centric events, including the DOT Office of Product and Market Development – Dive Team’s Anilao Underwater Shootout in Batangas, the DIVE7 Festival series by the DOT Region VII office, the Davao Dive Expo by the DOT Region XI office, and the NorthMin Dive by the DOT Region X office —which opened yesterday (Sept. 6)—among others. The Department also extended its support to a multitude of diving initiatives, assessments, and expeditions, including the Cebu Travel Catalogue, the Bohol Loop Dive Expo (BHOLDEX), the 3rd MisOr Dive Festival, Samal Island Dive Seafari, Bay Deep Mati Freediving Festival, and numerous others.
2023 World Travel Awards
DOT Undersecretary Shahlimar Hofer Tamano personally received the WTA Asia’s Leading Dive Destination 2023 trophy, which was awarded based on public votes and validation from the group’s panel of travel professionals. Philippine private tourism stakeholders also bagged notable victories at the WTA Asia & Oceania Gala Ceremony 2023, being named in the following Asian and country categories: Okada Manila (Asia’s Leading Casino Resort), Discovery Shores Boracay (Philippines’ Leading Beach Resort 2023), Travelite Travel and Tours Co. (Philippines’ Leading Destination Management Company 2023), and Seda Hotels (Philippines’ Leading Hotel Group 2023), among others.
Regional edition awardees, along with runners-up and previous year’s winners, are qualified for the WTA’s World edition, which will have its grand awards night in Muscat, Oman in November 2023.
Established in 1993, the WTA is now globally recognized as the “ultimate hallmark of excellence” in the tourism and hospitality industries. The WTA encompasses country awards, regional awards, and world awards.