Guv Lauds Scuba Dive Operator for Boost to Local Tourism

Siquijor Provincial Governor Orlando "Shane" A. Fua, Jr. recently lauded Sea Explorers, a dive operator on the island for landing it big in the recent project AWARE Marine Environment Award.

Manager Ronald van de Vooren announced that Siquijor Sea Explorers was the only dive center in the Philippines that came out finalists along with 20 others out of the more than 50 applicants in Asia during the ADEX diving trade show in Singapore last April 2008.

The award was about rewarding vision, excellence and pursuit of conversation. Project AWARE's Marine Environmental Award winners were dive operators making an exceptional commitment to the aquatic environment. These facilities were awarded for proving their exceptional commitment to sustainable business practices. It also recognized a select group of Eco-Operators who pledge to conduct business according to Eco-Operator guidelines.

Sea Explorers which operates six dive centers on different islands in the Visayas has a Swiss-managed Head office and Assistance Center in Cebu City.

It has access to the very best dive sites in the heart of the Philippines' 7,107 islands with PADI course directors conducting several instructor courses per year.

In Siquijor, Sea Explorers has come to the aid of rescuing reefs, disposing of soilid wastes and cleaning up the island's waters, among others.

Governor Fua said through these activities the company has been cultivating awareness to the Siquijodnons to protect the environment.

"I thank Ronald for his and his company's efforts in preserving our marine life since this is very essential to our booming tourism industry," Fua said while citing Siquijor's 87 thousand toursists last year and the 300 tourists who are comin gin everyday.

Gov. Fua disclosed that the government is allocating funds in every town to create projects and programs for the people and the tourism industry.

San Juan Mayor Edwin Quimno also expressed gratitude to the Siquijor Sea Explorers because the town has been benefitting from them financially.

"Our town is receiving some P160,000 out of the total income from the diving within the town's waters," the mayor said.

Van de Vooren, meanwhile, assured that Sea Explorers is poised to continue realizing its 'helping hand' mission, as more projects will come out soon.

He acknowledged the support and contributions of the individuals from private and public spheres.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected as an honored member of Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) for her outstanding accomplishments in the field of marine conservation.

WDHOF ranking officials led by its founder Dr. Hillary Viders and its president Martha Watkins Gilkes presented the President a membership plaque during a meeting with the Filipino community who came all the way from various parts of the United States Thursday at the Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel.

"As a scuba diver and a world leader, President Arroyo recognizes that a healthy marine environment is the foundation of a stable, productive society that can develop in a sustainable manner," Viders said.

Viders pointed out that the President has made unprecedented strides to protect coral reefs throughout South Asia's Coral Triangle.

She said that President Arroyo has enacted a national conservation policy to protect the Philippines' unique and rich marine resources.

According to Viders, the President has likewise enacted in January 2005 legislation declaring the second week of January of each year as the "Best Dives Philippines Week" promoting scuba diving with an emphasis on protection and conservation of the country's underwater marine resources.

At the same time, Viders noted that the President also signed Proclamation No. 1512 in May 2008, proclaiming the Month of June of every year as "Celebrate the Sea Month."

Viders described these proclamation as "truly a milestone" adding that this is the first time that nation of more than 80 million people has been called upon to celebrate the sea by its president.

WDHOF is an international non-profit professional honor society that recognizes the top women divers in every area of diving: arts, science, medicine, sports, exploration, maritime archeology, media, service, dive training and education, safety, business, marine environment and conservation, free diving, commercial diving, and military diving.

Founded in year 2000, WDHOF has 150 members from 30 U.S. states and territories and 13 countries worldwide.

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