ILOILO CITY - The Department of Tourism (DOT) is currently doing a mapping and inventory of diving sites in Region 6 as it has identified the development of the Western Visayas Dive Circuit among its priorities this year.
DOT Western Visayas Regional Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, in a press conference Tuesday, said there are already established dive sites in the region.
She mentioned Boracay Island which already has diving sites prior its closure for rehabilitation in 2018
There are also dive sites in the provinces of Guimaras and Antique since they also have marine protected areas (MPAs).
"It's very strategic for Region 6 considering that Cebu is number one. We have been also getting feedbacks from travel fairs abroad that divers are actually asking if what other sites in the country they can go for diving as well," she said.
The region's proximity to Regions 7 (Central Visayas) and 8 (Eastern Visayas) is a plus, she said, since their overspill can also come to Western Visayas.
On Jan. 30, Antipara Exploration Inc. tapped by the DOT for the inventory, will already start with the works that will cover the profiling of dive sites, underwater mapping, assessment, and analysis of coastal and marine habitats literature.
Among those to be covered by the inventory will be dive sites in Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Iloilo, Aklan, and Antique.
The dive site in the town of Anini-y, Antique will also be reassessed if still can be promoted as a destination.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already given DOT the list that can be promoted for diving.
"We hope that by March will be finished and we'll be ready to market them after that," she added.
In addition to the development of dive circuit, the DOT will also prioritize the development of the region's sugar heritage trail, sun farms program, slow food travel project, Boracay biking tours, Boracay wellness workstation, Boracay food crawl, and the development of the Inter-Regional Products for the Visayas.
Rodriguez said their priorities are aligned with the seven-point agenda of DOT Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Garcia Frasco.
"We have unique selling points considering the products we have identified for the year," she added. (PNA)