Diving industry now 'ready' for foreign visitors, DOT says

The country’s diving industry is now ready to welcome foreign visitors as more than 95 percent of workers in accredited dive establishments already received their vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced Friday, Nov. 26.

A diver swims past a coral reef off the coast of Escaño Beach in Barangay Piapi, Dumaguete City in an undated photo. On Monday (Sept. 21, 2021), more or less 40 professional divers conducted an underwater assessment of the coral reef and marine life in the area amid the controversial 174-hectare proposed reclamation project in the Negros Oriental capital. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Carballo/PNA)

According to DOT, data from 10 Dive Establishments (DEs) and Liveaboards Dive Establishments (LDEs) which are accredited by the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) showed that 1,342 of the 1,401 employees have already been inoculated.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed this development as she noted that the vaccination of workers in the dive sector will add to the overall readiness of the country to welcome foreign visitors and help in further strengthening its position as one of the leading dive destinations globally.

"The DOT shall continue to work with other national and local government agencies as well as our stakeholders in the private sector to vaccinate all tourism workers in the country as soon as possible. Now that our borders are being eased to foreign visitors, it is imperative to protect our workforce against the virus,” Puyat said.

"With our recent win as Asia’s leading dive destination at the 28th World Travel Awards (WTA) last October, we anticipate a good volume of foreign tourists returning to our dive spots in the coming months,” she added.

The Philippines bagged the WTA title as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination for the third consecutive year since 2019.

Meanwhile, the tourism chief noted that unvaccinated tourism workers in dive destinations are either pregnant, with existing comorbidities, or are still unwilling to get vaccinated as shown in a survey conducted by the PCSSD.

She added that some tourism workers remain unvaccinated due to missed vaccine appointments and preference of vaccine brands that are not available in their area.

Puyat reiterated the DOT's call for cooperation among local government units of tourism destinations including dive spots to prioritize tourism workers in their respective vaccination programs, especially those with ample supply of vaccines.