The Philippines proudly emerged victorious for the fifth consecutive year as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination at the 2023 World Travel Awards (WTA) Asia and Oceania Gala Ceremony. The accolade pays homage to the Philippines’ incredible waters and reefs and relentless efforts in conserving and promoting its pristine island and marine sanctuaries.
With the Philippines receiving the award last September 6, 2023, it is the country’s fifth consecutive year to be granted the prestigious title. The first time it received the distinction was in 2019, with the WTA honoring the Philippines’ efforts in promoting the island and marine sanctuaries. In 2020, the Philippines repeated its win of the Asia’s Leading Dive Destination Award, alongside three other trophies.
The following year in 2021, the country executed a three-peat win after besting Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand for the same prize. The Philippines’ fourth victory was then cemented at the 2022 World Travel Awards.
There are currently thousands of scuba diving sites in the country, with divers sighting various flora and fauna such as whale sharks, corals, sea snakes, and more. The most popular diving destinations in the Philippines include Pescador Island, Amos Rock, and Manta Bowl. Divers can even explore historic World War 2 shipwrecks in Palawan and Subic.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is particularly marketing the country’s diving destinations in Batangas, Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan to foreigners. Activities like the sardine run, reef wall snorkeling, dolphin watching, and wreck diving were especially emphasized by the department at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Show 2022 in Orlando, Florida, USA.
“The Philippine Commission for Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), an attached agency of the DOT in charge of marine sports, has recently appropriated a budget of Php 9.53 million for the first time by the national government for a more intensified dive tourism promotion and development,” the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines announced in a 2022 press release.
Recently, DOT created the pioneering Dive Committee to coordinate product development and promotion efforts with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, and PCSSD. It has also established the Philippine International Dive Expo for interested divers worldwide. Other local expos are also being conducted by the department, specifically in Batangas, Davao, Northern Mindanao, and more.
Along with this, the tourism branch of the government is advancing more measures for diver safety. “The DOT, through its infrastructure arm, TIEZA, eyes the installation of additional hyperbaric chambers that will improve scuba diving safety standards in strategic dive locations, such as Dumaguete and Daanbantayan in Cebu, by 2024,” the agency said in the press release for the 2023 award.
The World Travel Awards is an annual ceremony that “celebrates excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries”, according to its website. WTA has regional awarding ceremonies per continent, with all winners competing at a Grand Final by the end of the year. With its win, the Philippines’ diving scene is eligible to compete at the WTA Grand Final in Muscat, Oman in November 2023.
This year’s WTA Asia and Oceania Gala Ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “[The trophy] was awarded based on public votes and validation from the group’s panel of travel professionals,” DOT attested in a press release. Companies in the Philippines’ tourism industry also bagged awards that night: Okada Manila won Asia’s Leading Casino Resort, while trophies were also given to the Philippines’ leading beach resorts, destination management companies, and hotel groups.
“[The win] further affirms the unparalleled beauty and mega biodiversity of our country loved by divers and tourists all over the world,” DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said in the release following the announcement of the award.
The Philippines’ diving landscape is a force to be reckoned with, receiving many awards over the years. Outside the World Travel Awards, the Philippines was voted Best Diving Area at a 2020 marine diving fair in Japan. In 2019, the Philippine islands of Tubbataha and Cebu gained recommendations from the popular travel guide Lonely Planet for being spectacular scuba diving sites.
SEND CONGRATULATIONS to the people of the Philippines for their stunning diving sites around the country!
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