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).
The four-day activity, held from September 28 to October 1, was spearheaded 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 2020. Dive stakeholders are being consulted on their product and market development needs, and 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. All participants and instructors observed strict health and safety protocols and underwent antigen testing.
“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. The Dive Guide Training Program ensures that our destinations have an adequate supply of well-trained dive professionals ready to cater to dive tourists from all over the world,” said Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.
“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 has 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. 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.
Mabini Tourism Officer Ian Bueno reminded the participating divers to always be responsible stewards of the oceans.
“Every time is a cleanup time,” Bueno said. “If you see trash in the ocean, please pick them up if you can so we can keep our playground clean and make it desirable for our visitors because it is the source of our livelihood,’’ he added.
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.
The Dive Guide Training and Certification Program in Anilao will be replicated in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro on November 9 to 12. Both destinations are the country’s pride in diving activities, making it well-known among scuba divers, freedivers, and even underwater photographers.
For more information on the program, visit Dive Philippines Facebook page.