Gaining high recognitions as the Top 5 Best Diving Area, Top 10 Most Desirable Destination, Best Dive Resort (Bohol Tropics), and Favorite Dive Operator (Blue Coral, Cebu), the Philippines continues to be an acknowledged marine explorer’s haven. The awards were based on a survey participated in by more than 50,000 dive enthusiasts in Japan.
The list of top ten dive sites also includes Maldives, Palau, Ishigaki Island; Saipan, Okinawa Island, Zamami Island, French Polynesia, Mizako Island, and Guam. Given at the recent 17th Marine Diving Fair (MDF) held in Tokyo, the largest diving fair in Asia, the MDF Awards are among the highly-acknowledged commendations for must-visit dive destinations in the world.
“There are more than 1 million Japanese divers who annually travel worldwide returning to their familiar dive spots or in search of new locations. The country 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,” according to Tourism Secretary Ace Durano.
He added, “The Department of Tourism (DOT) sees these achievements as a positive result of the promotional campaigns specifically targeted for 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.”
Voters of the survey included readers of top dive magazines in Japan namely; Marine Diving, Travel Dive, Marine Photo and I love Diving. These publications by Marine Art Co., Ltd., organizers of the 17th MDF, are best-selling magazines catering to serious divers.
Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque, Jr. said, “The Philippine participation to the annual MDF wills to maintain and further the Philippines’ popularity among the Japanese divers.”
Jarque added, “This is not the first time for the Philippines to win the award; we have always been in the Top 10 best dive destinations. The positive feedback we received affirms the country’s standing as a premier dive destination.”
Dir. Benito Bengzon, Head of Team Japan, was enthusiastic to report, “The Philippines remain to be a favorite dive destination among the Japanese. For several years, Blue Coral Resort in Cebu 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 the multi-colored jelly fish.
He added, “All the participants are very happy with the outcome of the country’s participation to 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 were present in the 17th MDF, attracting close to 100,000 visitors.