The “DIVE7 Summer Festival” in Negros Oriental has successfully drawn around 40 foreign and local scuba divers and enthusiasts who participated in the underwater photo competition on July 28-31.

The Department of Tourism in Region 7 (DOT 7) has pushed to recover diving as one of the major tourist attractions in the province post-pandemic.

The event also showcased the province’s readiness to welcome back tourists and reclaim its position as one of the leading dive destinations in the country, if not in Central Visayas.

The four-day activity aimed to support the development and promotion of dive destination in the region while advocating on environmental conservation and protection.

DIVE7 highlighted the underwater photo contest, but some activities promoting the festival include mermaiding, beach clean-ups, free diving lessons from any of the certified dive instructors, and media familiarization trips showcasing a series of destinations or site visits in the province.

“It is our shared vision that Central Visayas is viewed not just as a top diving destination in the country but to contend with the other top dive spots in the world as well especially Negros Oriental, and particularly in Dauin and Zamboanguita,” said DOT7 Chief Tourism Operations Officer Judy Gabato.

Participants of the underwater photography contest envisioned to capture its rich and diverse beauty of flora and fauna thriving in the marine area or diving spots in Dauin and Zamboanguita.

The winners received more than P200,000 in cash prizes, certificates, and trophies in a culmination event at Silver Reef Resort, Dauin.

The competition set out both open class and compact class categories on macro, marine life behaviour, frogfish, wide seascape, nudibranch, swimming with turtles, and best portfolio.

DOT Asec. Maria Rica Bueno said one of the thrusts of the administration right now is to enhance the overall tourism experience in the Philippines and the best diving experience is something the local government and stakeholders can work on together.

DOT has planned to organize a national diving program next year that needs more collaboration with stakeholders in putting up the next level of promotion to make the Philippines the diving destination of the world.

The directive of the newly-appointed DOT Secretary Maria Esperanza Cristina Garcia-Frasco is to ensure that there is collaboration and coordination when it comes to event and promotions in every municipality as partners in the tourism industry.