Philippines Lures American Diving Community to Southeast Asian Seas 

In a bid to bring in more American divers to the Philippines, the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Chicago office brought out the country’s colorful aquatic vistas at the recent Our World-Underwater Show (OW-U).

Considered the biggest and longest dive event in the US Midwest, the three-day expo drew in over 15,000 scuba diving professionals and enthusiasts, as well as travel trade business decision makers.

The Philippines was among the 150 dive travel operators, educators, dive equipment vendors and environmental groups showcased at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

According to Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, “Our participation at this year’s Our World-Underwater Show helps to strengthen our position in the American water sports market.

The country’s ability to provide an exceptional diving experience lies in having one of the world’s most diverse marine life, as well as the warm smiles and hospitality that greet tourists above the surface.” The country’s biggest, smallest, strangest and most colorful marine species and underwater seascapes served as the backdrop of the Philippine pavilion.

“Some of the showcased dive sites included Anilao in Batangas, Puerto Galera in Mindoro, Cebu, Bohol, Dumaguete and Palawan. Our partner dive tour operators and resorts based in Chicago were very much pleased with the quality of discussions they were able to make with their counterparts and with interested consumers,” shared Vernie Velarde-Morales, Tourism Attaché for North America’s Central Region.

To further excite the American diving community, internationally published photographer, lecturer, environmentalist and dive travel leader Lynn Funkhouser headed the special expo seminar entitled Philippine Dive-rsity.

Funkhouser, an inaugural member of the Woman Divers Hall of Fame, has explored over 250 of the country’s underwater wonders over the past three decades. Her photographs of marine life indigenous to the islands were also showcased in the Philippine pavilion.

Also on display was award-winning dive coffee table book Anilao, a collaboration of Eduardo Cu Unijeng and Scott Tuazon. Likewise, Tuazon’s hardcover tome Bahura was on hand for visitors to browse through.

The DOT plans to strengthen diving and snorkeling as on of the top tourism products. Destinations that offer this adventure experience are now earning recognition around the world.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium’s Wild Reef exhibit in Chicago describes the Philippines’ underwater paradise as having a wide variety coral and fish species that number more than those in the Great Barrier Reef and the Hawaiian Reefs combined.

The Philippines was recently celebrated as the Destination of Honor at the 10th year anniversary of the Paris Dive Show, one of Europe’s longest-running and major scuba and water adventure events.

The country will further host the Celebrate the Sea Marine Imagery Festival (CSMIF), the biggest underwater imaging event in Asia Pacific. Holding the event will strategically position the Philippine Islands as the capital of aquatic photography and cinematography in Asia.

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