To advance their careers in the dive industry, 22 freelance community guides from Mabini and Calatagan in Batangas recently completed the Anilao Dive Guide Training and Certification Program initiated by the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the training program aims to ensure that destinations in the country have enough supply of well-trained dive professionals that are ready to cater to dive tourists around the world.
“As part of the Department’s continuing efforts to develop competitive products and services for our destinations in preparation for our reopening to international travelers, we continue to implement capacity-building programs for our dive industry professionals to ensure that they receive top quality skills training from an internationally recognized certifying agency,” Puyat said.
The four-day activity, held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, was headed by the Office of Product and Market Development (OPMD) of the DOT as an offshoot of the local destination validation trip to Anilao in November last year.
During the trip, dive stakeholders were consulted on their product and market development needs and were given assistance to upskill their guides to increase the number of dive professionals in the area.
The training included academic and practical sessions on Dive Briefing, Dive Group Management, Diver Stress and Rescue Response, and React Right First Aid/CPR/AED and Oxygen Provider.
“We recognize the importance of travel and tourism as a driver of job creation and growth, and a mechanism to further equality, reduce poverty, and enhance inclusivity in society. The sector now needs to restart and recover to gradually bring back the millions of jobs and people whose livelihoods have been impacted,” Puyat added.
The OPMD also partnered with Scuba Schools International (SSI), an international dive training and certification agency with operations in the Philippines, to conduct the technical classroom training and practical open water dives.
The SSI shortlisted training candidates and issued the appropriate certification cards to graduates of the program that will help raise their level of dive professionalism for employment purposes.
Gordos Gojunco, instructor trainer and support manager for SSI Philippines, explained that once the borders reopen for local travel, they are anticipating a shortage of diving professionals as most of them were foreigners who had gone back to their home countries during the pandemic.
“There is thus a need to equip the local community to be knowledgeable and at par in terms of skills so that once we open again, we can tell the international community that we are ready to cater to dive tourists,” he said.
In December, the region will host the return of the Anilao Underwater Shootout, an annual macro underwater photography competition participated in by divers, professional and amateur underwater photographers, and marine enthusiasts from around the globe.
The event aims to further promote dive travel and sustain global interest in the country as the World’s Leading Dive Destination.
Meanwhile, the Dive Guide Training and Certification Program in Anilao will be replicated in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro on Nov. 9 to 12.
Anilao and Puerto Galera are among the country’s pride in diving activities, making it well-known among scuba divers, freedivers, as well as underwater photographers.