THE TOURISM department wants enhanced promotion of Davao’s dive sites as the region’s travel industry strengthens outdoor destinations for its recovery program. 

“Your underwater attractions definitely belong on the country’s roster of acclaimed dive sites,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during last week’s virtual gathering for the Davao Region Tourism Industry Report 2021.

Ms. Puyat noted that the Philippines was named in 2021, for the third time in a row, as the world’s leading dive destination by the annual World Travel Awards. 

“This is a big boost for our dive tourism industry,” she said.

Davao Tourism Regional Director Tanya Rabat-Tan, herself a diver, said in a promotional video played during the forum that they have explored new sites in the different provinces during the industry’s hiatus due to coronavirus. 

“Of course, Samal remains our top destination with 14 dive sites, but we have new sites available (such as in Davao Oriental, Davao De Oro, and Davao del Sur),” she said.

“Our sites are very accessible and we have good weather so anyone can easily go diving all year round,” she said. 

Alfred P. Medina, a commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, said Davao Region is a “very promising dive site” with unique underwater creatures. 

“These dive sites are really a haven for underwater photographers,” he said. 

Ms. Rabat also said during the forum, with the theme Bounce Back Davao: Davao Region Towards Tourism Recovery, that industry players have been undergoing training, planning, and setting up adjustments to operations in compliance with new standards prompted by the pandemic.

“Looking back at 2020, the COVID-19 hit the tourism industry the hardest and comparing it with the developments in the year 2021, the outlook for tourism seems brighter and more optimistic in 2022,” she said. 

Several tourism circuits have been developed across the regions, focusing on beaches and water activities, walking trails, eco-adventures tied with local indigenous communities, farm tourism, and culinary offerings including for the halal market. 

“Sure, the variants of COVID-19 continue to challenge us each day, but it has become an ordeal that we’re now more knowledgeable to confront. Thanks to our more cautious practices, following health protocols as well as to the arrival of vaccines and boosters that kept the industry up and running in the entire year (2021),” she said.

Department of Tourism records show 99.1% of Davao’s tourism workers have been vaccinated.

There are currently 452 accredited tourism establishments in the region. It is composed of the provinces of Davao Oriental, Occidental, del Norte, del Sur, de Oro, and Davao City, which serves as the regional center. — Marifi S. Jara and Maya M. Padillo