The Philippines is shaping up to be a major diving destination, according to exhibitors at the country’s first international Diving & Resort Travel (DRT) Expo.
Olivier Martinez, marketing director of Asiaqua, which owns a fleet of 12 dive boats, said their packages to the Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are already 85 percent booked six months in advance.
Lauren Feather of international sales, Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin, Negros Oriental, observes growing interest in the Philippines in the US and other international dive shows. “The Philippines is the next big thing in diving,” she said.
Christian Reinwald, owner of Easy Diving & Beach Resort in Sipalay, Negros Occidental, said the dive market is “alright” with 95 percent of their European clients spending two to three weeks on dive trips.
Asians are also being drawn, due to proximity of the Philippines. High demand from South Korean and Chinese divers has driven the Sea World Dive Centre in Boracay to expand and upgrade its facilities, said Hye Kyoung Jung, PADI course director at the centre.
Jung also acknowledges that the Philippines Department of Tourism did a good job in marketing and promoting diving in the Philippines in recent years, adding that the special department for diving interests had managed to clinch the deal with Hong Kong-based LX Development Group to launch the DRT Expo in the Philippines.