TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Mar 4 (PIA) -- Divers and diver operators in Panglao agreed with Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado and took on his challenge of scouring ways to spread the benefits to other Bohol towns who can bank on Bohol’s rich marine biodiversity.
The Bohol Dive Loop Expo (BHOLDEX) set for April 14-30, 2023 opens new and equally interesting hotspots of marine diversity in Bohol’s 12 towns as part of the loop, a dive safari concept but with towns keenly managing their dive sites to assure environmental sustainability in line with Bohol’s environmental policies in development.
Dive instructor and Panglao Association of Dive Operators (PADO) Vice President Edgar Baylon admitted that they have seen the way things are turning after decades of diving in Panglao, Balicasag, Pamilacan and Cabilao.
While these dive sites can bring in revenues, they can also only take as much.
Knowing that dive sites, which rely on delicate marine biodiversity have to be properly managed to be sustainable, PADO, in partnership with the national and local governments here, are bringing to these towns best practices in responsible diving for environmental sustainability.
With the governor’s vision, Baylon, speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA said, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office, PADO conducted underwater assessments and sites demarcation potential dive areas in 12 towns, to make sure these dive sites pass the standards for divers, and that tourist divers do not go outside these sites.
“We do this to map, assess and evaluate dive sits of each of the 12 towns, ensure they meet requirements to be included in the dive loop for the expo,” Baylon said.
PADO has initially invested over a million already to make it easy for the towns to put up benchmarks for their sites and their conservation measures with the activities.
In the new dive loop are the dive sites in the towns of Lila, Dimiao, Valencia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Duero, Guindulman, Anda, Candijay, Mabini, Ubay, Talibon, Dauis and Panglao.
To get things going fast, towns in the loop are already processing their local ordinances to institute the use of the environmental user’s fee (EUF), monitoring site’s carrying capacity and site rehabilitation as well as an Advance Booking System to ensure that local governments get empowered to properly manage their dive sites once the divers come.
A first in the country, the Bohol Loop Dive Expo features a series of diving, environment and economic activities to be conducted in various locations across Bohol, participated in by over a hundred underwater photographers professional divers, dive enthusiasts, dive tour operators and business establishments.
Joining in ecological tours, dive seminars, one-stop shop services for tourism stakeholder accreditation and registration, business sessions, dive fairs, fun dives, free diving (skin diving) and SCUBA diving.
Registration is ongoing at www.bholdex.com.
Biggest of the events in the expo is the underwater photography competition for both SCUBA and free diving, and in line with the vision, a coral restoration seminar and activity in some participating towns.
“Panglao may be a dive success story with its EUF and ABS systems in place, but we have to keep the momentum and open up new sites, keeping the sustainability issues in diving as guide,” Baylon said.
Acclaimed as the first motor that cranked Bohol’s tourism campaign into the international circuits, diving as the next big thing in Bohol then started when Europeans explored and shared the magical world of Bohol’s underwater treasures, in Panglao, Balicasag, Pamilacan and in Cabilao.
Sustaining the effort while making sure the dive sites are at its prime at all times, BHOLDEX this year hopes to expand and open up more dive sites next year, PADO added. (RAHC/PIA7 Bohol)