Popular dive site Batangas province, which remains under general community quarantine classification (GCQ), is now allowed to welcome tourists but divers are required to bring their own masks, fins, snorkels, regulators, and other gear, as ordered by the Department of Tourism.
Guests are also required to present a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result obtained not earlier than 48 hours before arrival in the dive establishment as part of the Test-Before-Travel requirement.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, as chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), signed PCSSD Administrative Order No. 2020-001 or the Guidelines on the Operations of Dive Establishments Under a Community Quarantine.
“Dive establishments in Batangas Province, insofar as the area is still under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), are hereby determined to be permitted to accept guests for Recreational Diving, taking into consideration the general preparedness of the area and its impact on the tourism industry,” Puyat said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved Resolution No. 78, which provides for the DOT to determine the destinations in GCQ areas where recreational diving may be allowed. The same resolution provides that in specific areas under GCQ and MGCQ, dive establishments and resorts may accept guests from either GCQ or MGCQ areas for recreational diving purposes.
Prior to the recent IATF-EID Resolution, travel between areas under GCQ and MGCQ for purposes of recreational diving was not allowed.
“We express our support to the diving community in Batangas, one of the premier diving destinations in the country,” the tourism chief said.
She also stressed that the DOT remains optimistic yet cautious of its reopening to recreational diving.
“While guests of all ages from GCQ and MGCQ areas are welcome, the activity is off-limits to those with comorbidities and currently pregnant,” she added.
Through its regional office for CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), the DOT provided a digital contact tracing application to the Mabini, Batangas local government unit (LGU) for a more efficient tracing measure.
There are already six dive establishments and two liveaboards accredited by PCSSD in Region IV-A. For the whole country, there are 241 dive establishments and 10 liveaboards accredited.
As of October 8, 222 establishments have secured the Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the DOT.
“The DOT accreditation certifies that the dive establishments are conforming to the minimum health and safety guidelines and are ready to accept guests again,” Puyat added.
The tourism chief also encouraged dive resorts and stakeholders to take advantage of the free and online DOT-accreditation platform at https://accreditation.tourism.gov.ph.
Just south of Manila and easily accessible by land and sea, Batangas has some of Luzon’s best dive sites, including Balayan Bay, Cathedral Rock, Beatrice Rock, Twin Rocks, and Mainit Muck.
To recall, dive operators in Mabini town appealed to the national government last month to allow underwater activity to resume, saying it is safer than leisure travels to the beach.