The Philippines remains as one of marine explorers’ most preferred diving destinations, besting several other international diving sites based on a survey done during the 17th Marine Diving Fair in Tokyo, Japan.
The country garnered awards for Top 5 Best Diving Area, Top 10 Most Desirable Destination, Best Dive Resort (Bohol Tropics), and Favorite Dive Operator (Blue Coral Resort, Cebu). The Marine Diving Fair (MDF) is the largest diving fair in Asia, while the MDF Awards is highly recognized for its commendations for must-visit dive destinations in the world.
The list of top 10 dive sites also includes Maldives, Palau, Saipan, French Polynesia, Guam, and three islands (Mizako, Okinawa, Zamami and Ishigaki) from Japan.
According to Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, “There are more than one million Japanese divers who travel worldwide annually, either returning to their familiar dive spots or searching for new locations. The country’s gaining momentum in this niche activity signals our strong efforts in making people aware of the Philippines’ diverse marine life that is worthy of every traveler’s discovery.”
“The Department of Tourism (DoT) sees these achievements as a positive result of the promotional campaigns specifically targeted to this market segment. Arrivals from Japan are seen to rise during the summer months as more vacation packages and even lower fares are being offered,” Durano added.
The survey was participated in by more than 50,000 dive enthusiasts, including readers of top dive magazines in Japan, namely: Marine Diving, Travel Dive, Marine Photo and I love Diving. Catering to serious divers, these are all best-sellers published by Marine Art Co., Ltd., organizer of the Japan dive fair.
Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque, Jr. said, “The country’s participation in the annual MDF is crucial in maintaining and furthering the Philippines’ popularity among Japanese divers. The positive feedbacks we received affirm the country’s standing as a premier dive destination.”
Jarque added, “This is not the first time that the Philippines has won the award; we have always been in the Top 10 best dive destinations. This indeed attests that the country has magnificent sites to show to the world.”
Tourism Director Benito Bengzon, Head of Team Japan, was enthusiastic to report, “The Philippines remains to be a favorite dive destination among the Japanese. For several years, Cebu-based dive operator Blue Coral has been voted as the number one Best Dive Operator.”
This year, the Philippine booth featured a whale shark or ‘butanding’ backdrop and several sea water aquariums featuring small sea creatures found only in the Philippines, such as multi-colored jelly fish.
Bengzon added, “All Philippine participants who joined the DOT at the dive fair are very happy with the outcome of the country’s participation in the MDF. Optimism was evident, despite the economic challenges, with their clients asking for return trips, and many prospective clients signifying strong interest.”
Part of the Philippine delegation was Kasai Village Resort from Moalboal, popular for their expertise in taking divers around spectacular wrecks in Cebu. General Manager Michael Pettersson said, “Moalboal is one of the oldest centers of diving in the country. The sites here are famous for the pygmy seahorse and frog fish, to name a few.” Kasai Village Resort will now be represented in Japan by Metropolitan Tours, one of Japan’s biggest tour operators.
More than 65 countries representing various destinations, tourism boards, airlines, resorts, dive operators and other tourism-related companies participated in the dive fair, attracting close to 100,000 visitors.