Our Sea, Our Story: Diving Experience In the New Normal
The Philippines has been recognized as the center of marine diversity in the world. That’s why it reigns as one of the top tourist destinations for the diving community.
Today, the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) hold a virtual dive expo that promotes safe and sustainable tourism. Led by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, she invited everyone to join the expo and see the watery world of the Philippines from a different perspective.
Despite the ongoing fight against COVID-19, the Department of Tourism remains optimistic in taking bold steps to boost the tourism industry. Puyat emphasized in her opening remarks that the staff of all tourist destinations in the country has participated in a series of training, seminars, and unending protocol checks to ensure the safety of tourists and locals. And as a part of a tourism masterplan to advocate the Philippines’ tourism here and abroad, the PHIDEX takes the spotlight to promote the diving sector.
Named as one of the best diving spots in the world, the Philippines marine diversity remains captivating, which what PHIDEX wants to promote. The three-day virtual expo (March 19-21) will feature not only the diving spots in the Philippines but also the tourism and travel players that revolve around it.
“As the Philippines is known around the world for its diving destinations, it is truly important that we do everything we can to sustain the local diving industry. The latest recognition we received was from the 2020 World Travel Awards which named the Philippines as the World’s Leading Dive Destination. This year’s PHIDEX is a step in the right direction to sustain our gains toward recovery, for all to enjoy the natural wonders our archipelago can provide,” Puyat said.
Some notable names confirmed for the event are California Academy of Sciences Curator Dr. Terry Gosliner, French-British underwater photographer Henley Spiers, Emmy Award-winning husband-and-wife documentary team Howard and Michele Hall, PADI Ambassador and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao, University of the Philippines marine economist and community scientist Tara Abrina, and German underwater photographer Tobias Friedrich. Each speaker will be discussing in-depth topics relevant to the diving industry and the protection of the Philippine seas.
Safe, Sustainable, and Competitive Tourism
Although pandemic hits the local diving industry and those who depend on it, this year’s PHIDEX themed “Our Sea, Our Story,” aims to raise awareness and discuss solutions to accelerating the industry’s recovery. The tourism sector of the Philippines eyes not only to boost tourism, but also to have a sustainable and competitive one.
Puyat with her strong conviction, seize the opportunity of a pandemic to restart, recalibrate, and renew the tourism in the Philippines. She mentioned that though the pandemic brought our tourism industry to its knees, it gives leeway to heal our tourist destinations due to over-tourism. It was a wake-up call for everyone, especially for the DOT. Like this year’s theme Our Sea, Our Story, the DOT advocates to change the narrative to have a better and progressive tourism plan in the country.
That’s why the expo caters to all aspects of travel, in which there are three-stages where you can dive-in. The main stage, the expo stage, and the panel stage. Each stage focus on different things such as the expo stage where business to business or B2B can happen. The expo also serves as a space for divers and enthusiasts to purchase experiences and equipment from partners and exhibitors, as it will also have a virtual marketplace section called the Dive Travel Exchange or TRAVEX.
On her ending note, Puyat reassures everyone that the DOT is working rigorously to provide alternative programs to those who lose their job due to the pandemic. And the core of her tourism advocacy since the beginning is responsible tourism. That’s why training and campaigns are being held left and right to ensure that both travel workers and tourists are prepared to deal with the new normal. The virtual diving expo is an example that maximized the safety protocol wherein everyone can explore and experience the event.
Also, Puyat reminded everyone that even though your result is negative from the virus, it doesn’t give you a license to neglect minimum safety protocol. She encouraged the public to be responsible tourists!
Written by Cedie Salido