Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (File photo)

MANILA – Batangas is now permitted to accept guests for recreational diving, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced Wednesday.

“Dive establishments in Batangas Province, insofar as the area is still under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), are hereby determined to be permitted to accept guests for Recreational Diving, taking into consideration the general preparedness of the area and its impact on the tourism industry,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Puyat, also sitting as chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), signed the guidelines on the operations of dive establishments under a community quarantine.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recently approved recreational diving in destinations under GCQ that the DOT would determine.

Prior to the IATF-EID resolution, travel between areas under GCQ and modified GCQ for purposes of recreational diving was not allowed.

“We express our support to the diving community in Batangas, one of the premier diving destinations in the country. We remain optimistic yet cautious of its reopening to recreational diving. We remind everyone to Test Before Travel and likewise reiterate that only those with a valid DOT and/or PCSSD Accreditation will be permitted to operate,” Puyat said.

While guests of all ages from GCQ and modified GCQ areas are welcome, the activity is off-limits to those with comorbidities and currently pregnant, she added.

The DOT likewise provided a digital contact tracing application to the Mabini, Batangas local government unit for a more efficient tracing measure.

Based on DOT data, there are six dive establishments and two liveaboards accredited by PCSSD in Region 4-A. For the entire country, there are 241 dive establishments and 10 liveaboard boats accredited. As of October 8, a total of 222 establishments have secured the Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the DOT.

“The DOT accreditation certifies that the dive establishments are conforming to the minimum health and safety guidelines and are ready to accept guests again. We encourage the dive resorts and stakeholders to take advantage of the free and online DOT-accreditation platform at https://accreditation.tourism.gov.ph,” Puyat said.

The Philippines is hailed as one of the best dive hubs worldwide, and is, in fact, nominated in the 27th World Travel Awards as “Best Diving Destination”.

Just south of Manila and easily accessible by land and sea, Batangas has some of Luzon’s best dive sites, including Balayan Bay, Cathedral Rock, Beatrice Rock, Twin Rocks, and Mainit Muck.

Under DOT guidelines for recreational diving, guests are required to bring their own set of scuba gear, instead of renting the dive shop’s gear and equipment.

They are also encouraged to bring their own gearbox with cover which can be used as rinse and storage bins. (PNA)