DOT scuba diving unit getsNG support for the first time

THE Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) has been allocated a budget of P9.53 million for the first time since it was set up by law in 2009.

Tourism Secretary-designate Christina Garcia Frasco made this disclosure in a news statement on Thursday, as she expressed appreciation for the recognition the Philippines received as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination at the recent 29th World Travel Awards (WTA) 2022 in Ho Chi Minh City.

The PCSSD was reconstituted under Republic Act 9593, otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009, as an attached agency of the Department of Tourism (DOT), and oversees marine sports development in the country. The budget allocation from the national government (NG) will be used for the agency’s operations in 2023, as it implements a stronger program to promote and development dive tourism in the country, she said.

Garcia Frasco noted that the dive citation from WTA cements the leadership of the DOT in hosting the Philippine International Dive Expo (Phidex) 2022, which is considered the country’s largest platform for networking and promoting the dive industry. Held from August 19 to 21 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay, Phidex gathered dive industry leaders, stakeholders, dive experts, government and business leaders, and dive enthusiasts to amplify the message that the Philippines is now ready to welcome divers from all over the world.

The Philippines likewise was awarded Asia’s Leading Beach Destination, while Intramuros reclaimed its title as Asia’s Leading Attraction, also at the WTA.

In her message to WTA organizers, Garcia Frasco said, “The Philippines is a beautiful country and having been given these awards by the WTA, is such an affirmation to all of our tourism stakeholders and workers, who have greatly sacrificed throughout the pandemic.” She added, “We look to the future with hope, that through our combined efforts under the Marcos administration that has identified tourism to become a major pillar for economic recovery, that not only will we survive the pandemic but we will thrive, we will endure, and we will [return] stronger than ever.”  

This is the sixth time the Philippines received the recognition as the Leading Beach Destination in Asia besting India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. At the same time, the country snagged Asia’s Leading Dive Destination title for four straight years since 2019, edging Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. 

As Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction, Intramuros won recognition over the Angkor Temples of Cambodia; the Borobudur Temple Compounds of Indonesia, Ha Long Bay of Vietnam; Sengan-en and Shoko Shuseikan Museum of Kagoshima in Japan; Taj Mahal of India; teamLab SuperNature of Macao; the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and Terracotta Warriors, all in China; the Tokyo Imperial Palace of Japan; and Victoria Peak of Hong Kong. 

“We are ready to receive you in the Philippines,” said the DOT chief. “We look forward to your visit and I invite each and every one of you to visit our beaches, our dive sites and our tourist destinations,” she added. 

Garcia Frasco underscored the significance of the WTA accolades, saying,  “[These] remind us that we all have a shared responsibility towards the success of the tourism industry, not only in our country, but in Asia and the world. We remain committed to purveying the Filipino brand of hospitality and to heralding the Filipino brand to the world.”

Established in 1993, the London-based WTA acknowledges excellence in travel and tourism in three tiers: country, regional, and world awards across different categories, and is often dubbed the “Oscars” of the industry.