The Philippines has won its first diving destination award, besting eight dive powerhouses at the 2019 World Travel Awards (WTA).
During the WTA Grand Final Gala Ceremony held recently in Oman, the Philippines surfaced as the 2019 World’s Leading Dive Destination, prevailing over eight other places nominated under the same category — Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Mexico, and the four-time and previous title holder Maldives.
Palawan’s prestigious Amanpulo Resort also emerged victorious as the World’s Leading Dive Resort at the gala event.
“Dubbed by marine experts and scientists as the heart of marine biodiversity in the world, our country is home to the highest concentration of coral reef life and astounding variety of marine species. This latest recognition is a validation that the Philippines is truly a premier dive destination,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement released.
Last October, the WTA held its gala event for Asia and Oceania in Vietnam, where the Philippines earned its first Asia’s Leading Dive Destination award after multiple nominations since 2006.
Conversely, the DOT was also recognized as Asia’s Leading Tourism Board for its efforts to increase visitor arrivals for the Philippines in the previous year.
Dive tourism is one of the key product portfolios under the Philippines’ National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2016-2022.
In the past, the DOT has hosted several dive-centric events, including the Anilao Underwater Shootout photography competition, and the Travel Trade Support through Dive Travel Exchange business-to-business (B2B) meetings.
It also organized the first Philippine International Dive Expo exposition, the only event in the world with the Dive Travel Exchange or B2B meetings.
“Through the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), we also ensure that diving safety and operating standards in the country are at par with the rest of the world,” Romulo-Puyat said.
Founded in 1993, the WTA or World Travel Awards has been recognizing brands and organizations from the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries all over the world that have raised the bar for global tourism standards, through its annual Grand Tour, a series of six regional gala ceremonies with a grand final ceremony held at the end of each tour.
At the 2019 WTA Grand Final Gala Ceremony, the Banwa Private Island in the Philippines was also hailed as this year’s World’s Leading Luxury Private Island Resort. (PNA)