The Philippines bested Maldives and seven other world-renowned dive destinations to win this year’s World Travel Award for Leading Dive Destination.
Maldives was the winner for the past three years, 2016 to 2018.
Aside from Maldives, other destinations that the Philippines bested for this award were Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Mexico.
Amanpulo Resort in Palawan was also recognized as World’s Leading Dive Resort.
The winners were announced during the World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final Gala Ceremony held on November 28, 2019 at the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman.
It was the first recognition for the Philippines as a dive destination. It came about a month after the Philippines earned its first Asia’s Leading Dive Destination award during the WTA gala event for Asia and Oceania in October.
“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,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
Among the best dive sites in the Philippines are the Tubbataha Reefs in Palawan, Monad Shoal in Malapascua, Ticao Pass in Donsol and Divers' Heaven in Balicasag in Bohol.
The Philippines is recognized for its white sandy beaches, having won the WTA for Leading Beach Destination in 2013, 2016 and 2018.
The WTA was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.
Romulo-Puyat noted that the Department of Tourism recently hosted the first Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) exposition, the only event in the world with the Dive Travel Exchange or business-to-business (B2B) meetings.
She said the exposition gave foreign buyers the opportunity to see and experience first-hand Philippine dive products and knowledge of the country’s dive destinations.
She stressed the Philippines’ competitive advantage in the region, not only as a diving destination, but also as a business hub. (Ventures Cebu)