THE Philippines is diving’s best kept secret but it won’t be for long.
Dive enthusiasts and marine conservation advocates assembled for the Dive Resort Travel (DRT) Philippines Show at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City to promote the wonders of diving in the country.
“The Philippines has some of the best diving in the world. I don’t think the rest of the world is quite aware of that. It’s something that should be embraced by the country itself,” said underwater photographer Mike Bartick, one of the VIP presenters in the event.
The three-day travel fair, which runs from September 9 to 11, aims to promote the country’s position as a premier dive and business hub in Asia as well as sustain global awareness of the country as having the richest marine biodiversity in the world.
Located at the Megatrade Hall, one of the components of the DRT is the dive exhibit that features the country’s top dive destinations, dive equipment, dive resorts, centers/shops, apparel as well as participating national tourism organizations (NTOs).
The event also hosts a series of seminars and workshops to be conducted by international dive experts covering topics such as Underwater Photography, Free and Technical Diving, Marine Life Education and Conservation, Dive Safety Education, and Marine Biodiversity in the Philippines.
The VIP presenters include international experts such as Wolfgang Dafert (Austria), Alex Stoyda (Russia), Jonatan Sanchez (Spain), Wilfried Dickes (Germany), Tim Ho, Anuar Abdullah and Patrick Ong (Malaysia), Alex Tyrell (UK), Steven Surina (France), Isabella Maffel (Italy), Mike Bartick, Howard Hall, Beth Barklage Watson and Michele Hall (USA), and Parnupong Norasethkamol, Thailand).
Also contributing their experiences are local pros Scott ‘Gutsy’ Tuason, Ivan Manzanares, Bo Mancao, Dennis Corpuz, Penn de los Santos, Reginald Reyes, A.G. Saño, and Dr. Arnel ‘AA’ Yaptinchay.
The Dive Travel Exchange (DIVE-TRAVEX) will facilitate the link-up of invited foreign buyers with their local counterparts. About 100 buyers are expected from Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, North America, the Middle East, Australia, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Thailand.
Dive familiarization tours will likewise be hosted for invited buyers, VIPs and international media in top areas such as Anilao, Puerto Galera, Bohol, Malapascua, Moalboal, Coron, Dumaguete, Siquijor and Southern Leyte.
The event is organized by Hong Kong-based LX Development Group Limited (LXDG), co-organizers include the Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), local travel trade associations, and the sports and underwater associations of participating countries. Support organizations include the World Underwater Federation, scuba diving schools (CMAS, NAUI, PADI and SSI), the Divers Alert Network (DAN), sellers of scuba diving equipment, accommodation facilities and airlines.
Last year’s show attracted 4,569 international visitors from 36 countries with 59 local and international companies taking up 111 booths at the exhibition area. This year’s staging hopes to draw an even bigger crowd.
“It took me years to realize how fortunate I am to have been living (here), to have access to all this wonderful- and not just diving- marine environment that is in our fingertips. I think it’s taken the world a bit of a while to realize what we have here,” said Tuason, co-author of the international award-winning book Anilao.