16 dive owners join US expo

SIXTEEN dive resorts and operators from the Philippines are joining this year’s Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (Dema) Show in Florida, USA to help the Philippines position itself as a premier dive destination.

The four-day Dema Show 2022 that is currently taking place in Orange Country Convention Center, Orland, Florida, USA runs from Nov. 1 to 4. The annual Dema Show is the largest trade-only event in the world for companies with business in scuba diving, ocean water sports and, adventure travel that attracts hundreds of visitors, including industry professionals.

Of the total, eight are from Central Visayas, namely Magic Resorts Philippines, Kasai Village Dive Resort, Atmosphere Resort and Spa, Amun Ini Beach Resort and Spa, Salaya Beach Houses, Sea Explorers Philippines, Atlantis Dive Resort and Liveaboard and Club Aquasports Dive Center.

Representatives from the Department of Tourism in Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Davao, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, and the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) and other dive resorts and operators such as the Crystal Blue Resort, Discovery Fleet, Scandi Divers, El Galleon Resort / Asia Divers, Buceo Anilao Beach and Dive Resort, Arkipelago Divers and Beach Resort, Reef Haven Scuba Diving School, and Marco Vincent Dive Resort also make up the country’s delegation.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, in a statement, said she is optimistic that the Philippines’ participation in international trade shows such as the Dema Show will signal a strong comeback for the country’s dive industry.

PCSSD, an attached agency of the DOT, has been appropriated with a budget of P9.53 million for the first time by the National Government for a more intensified dive tourism promotion and development. PCSSD is the agency in charge of marine sports.

The Philippines booth at the Dema Show officially highlighted the country’s best dive sites in Batangas, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan, and featured activities such as the sardine run, reef wall snorkeling, dolphin watching and wreck diving, among others.

On top of the business meetings and networking sessions, the Philippines booth also catered to extensive educational opportunities through the conduct of country presentations and information dissemination about the recent developments in the Philippine dive industry.

TPB chief operating officer Maria Margarita Montemayor Nograles said that the Philippines’ participation in Dema Show will help sustain the country’s presence on the international tourism scene, particularly in North America, as this is the country’s most significant source of arrival pre-pandemic. She added that with the opening of international borders, it is expected that 30 percent of Americans will take more leisure trips until the end of the year.

“We have been participating in this event since 2015, however, due to the pandemic, we were not able to maximize the marketing and business opportunities for the past two years. Now is the time to reinforce the country’s recognition as one of the world’s best dive destinations and to tap US markets to re-explore the Philippines for underwater adventures,” Nograles said.

In November last year, five dive centers in Central Visayas have been hailed by UK-based Dive Magazine as “Best Dive Centers in the Philippines” this year. These are Atmosphere Dauin (Negros Oriental); Evolution Diving, Malapascua (Cebu); Atlantis Dumaguete (Negros Oriental); French Kiss Divers, Malapascua (Cebu) and Amun Ini (Bohol).

The magazine described the Philippines as “ranking sixth overall in terms of the longest coastline in the world, separated from Indonesia in the list by Russia and Greenland, not particularly renowned as scuba diving destinations!”

DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano earlier said that diving is a huge tourism product in the region, hence the birth of Dive7 program to boost the region’s dive industry through a series of events geared to entice domestic scuba and free divers as well as activities on environment protection.

Recently, the Philippines was recognized as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination at the World Travel Awards 2022 held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, holding the title for four straight years since 2019, edging Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, providing an opportune time to aggressively promote diving as one of the country’s strongest tourism offerings.