Professionalism, safety key to Philippines’ pursuit of dive tourists

Philippines can leverage on dive tourism, but there are professionalism and safety issues to be addressed; diver in Cebu pictured

Recent market research has outlined the Philippines’ strengths as a diving destination, although there are also professionalism and safety issues that need addressing.

“What gives us the edge in when you dive in the Philippines, you dive with the community,” said Kristoffer Li, consultant at Frost & Sullivan, which did the six-month study.

Philippines can and should leverage on dive tourism, but there are professionalism and safety issues to be addressed; diver in Cebu pictured

Another strength is the hospitality and English language proficiency of many Filipinos. “That’s not something you can (as easily) find in, say, Indonesia or Malaysia,” Li remarked on the sidelines of Messe Berlin’s Travel Meet Asia forum.

In terms of tourist perception, however, the Philippines is still lagging far behind Indonesia despite both having comparable dive sites.

A key difference is that Indonesia’s dive professionals or dive masters are more professionally trained, according to Li.

“In Indonesia, when you ask the dive guide what critters you will see, they’re very confident in their reply and will give you a checklist. Whereas in the Philippines, the dive master will say, ‘we’ll see,’” Li remarked.

Safety is also an issue due to the “institutional disconnect” between the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) – which formulates rules, regulations, safety standards and operating procedures – and the local government units (LGUs) that approve the business permit.

It’s possible that operators who fail to meet the standards of PCSSD can still obtain a business permit from LGUs.

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