The first (1st) Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) commenced on September 20, 2019 at the seaside complex of Conrad Hotel. Underwater360 is proud to be the official media partner for PHIDEX.
Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) saw the participation of dive travel and trade stakeholders, equipment manufacturers, and National Tourism Organizations (NTO), and distinguished VIPs, leaders, and influencers from across the globe such as renowned scientists, marine conservationists, and underwater photographers and videographers to meet, network, share stories, and exchange ideas.
Dive Trade Seminar
At 11am to 3pm, international dive brands such as NAUI, SSI/Mares, Scuba Studio, Solitude Liveaboard, RAID, Scubapro, Defibtech Lifeline, Garmin, PADI and Scuba Equipment shared their extensive products courses and service range to the local Philippine business in Philippine Internation Dive Expo.
PHIDEX Press Conference on September 20 at 3pm was officiated by Benito C. Bengzon, Undersecretary for Tourism Development, Department of Tourism, Rowena Sorioso, OIC Executive and Head of the DOT Office of Product and Market Development’s Dive Team, Bo Mancao, award winning underwater photographer and commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, Lynn Funkhouser, internationally-published photographer, author, lecturer, environmentalist, adventurer, and leader in dive travel who has been living and photographing over 260 islands in the Philippines since 1975. Lynn was named “Diver of the Year” 2014 in Arts at Beneath the Sea.
The press conference revealed plans of dive tourism for the upcoming years, with PHIDEX as a platform to promote emerging destination in the Philippines and provide opportunity to showcase sustainable tourism effort under the strong leadership. While there were similar dive events in the Philippines, PHIDEX is the first show organised by the government, focusing on the B2B trade meetings, with an impressive list of local and international speakers, including Guinness World Record holders, Snake Sisters underwater film premiere, and more.
The floor was opened to questions, which included subjects on safety logistics and training between islands and mainland, visitor capacities to valuable dive destinations, regulations and awareness on sustainability and quality diving, supporting certain practices and livelihoods of local communities as well as world initiatives of tackling plastic pollution and climate change.
The PHIDEX Opening Ceremony at 4pm commenced with a paper-braided ribbon cutting ceremony symbolising the theme of plastic-free ocean, which was graced by Sec. Nancy Binay, Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Undersecretary Edwin Enrile, Assistant Sec Verna Buensuceso, Assistant Sec Roberto Alabado III, and Lynn Funkhouser, Women Diver’s Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was followed by a dynamic modern Philippine performance against a backdrop of emerging dive destinations and sustainable lifestyle.
The opening speeches in PHIDEX Opening Ceremony on September 20, 4.30pm was filled with pride and emotions.
The speeches were led by Senator Nancy Binay, followed by Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Undersecretary Edwin Enrile, Assistant Sec Verna Buensuceso, Assistant Sec Roberto Alabado III, Asec Leila Rivera, Head for Dive Product and Market Development and OIC, Ms Rowena Sorioso, Tourism Promotion Board COO, Ms Marie Venus Tan, General Manager, Phil Retirement Agency, Attu Bienvenido Chy and PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao.
They welcomed the audience to the Philippines, aware of the 7.1 million tourist arrivals in the latest year and expressed pride in 25 identified dive sites in the Philippines. They urged all of us to be guardians of the beauty that around us, that organisations must be committed to keeping sustainable marine tourism, which comes with a change of perspective in all of us.
VIP speakers included Lynn Funkhouser, Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, Conny Jeppson, PADI Regional Manager in the Philippines and Mark de Burgh, MARES/SSI General Manager.
They expressed pleasure and sentiment diving in the pristine waters and alongside beautiful marine habitat of the Philippines, with many places unexplored and adventures awaiting.
Guests who are on the mission for the betterment of marine health that were mentioned included John Thet, Founder and CEO of Underwater 360, Jessica Labaja of LAMAVE, Cesar Cruz of PHILTOA, Rabbi Ang, Guide to the Philippines, Marissa Nallana, Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corporation
Finally, the opening ceremony ended with heartwarming group photoshoot.
Sustainable Marine Tourism Panel Discussion
A highlight for PHIDEX Day 1 is the Sustainable Marine Tourism Panel Discussion.It was moderated by Richard Woulfe (USA). The panelist included Ahmed Gabr (Egypt), Guinness World Record holder from Egypt for the deepest dive 332.35 metres, Valentine Thomas (Canada), a certified lawyer and freediving instructor, Prahlad Kakar (India), founder of India’s first scuba diving school – the Lacadives Diving School, Roni Ben-Aharon (Philippines), representative of Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboard Philippines, Shannon Fuller (USA), Assistant Director of Conservation Travel at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Conny Jeppson (Sweden) PADI Regional Manager in the Philippines, and Gordos Gojunco (Philippines), an SSI Instructor Trainer.
The topic was regarding the latest and best sustainable tourism practices, casualties and hope of biology and aquatic creatures, lifestyle choice of choosing sustainable operators, plastic pollution, community resources to make a change, nurturing the next generation, and national success stories. The panel interacted with the audience in the Q&A session.
Noel Guevara Urges Everyone to Not Quit Their Day Job
Noel Guevara, a Manila-based conservation wildlife photographer and director, is the last speaker for the day PHIDEX Day 1.
He shared various knowledge, from the art of dialogues-starting photography, to identifying each whale sharks with their unique spots. His image of of a crab stuck in a plastic cup from Zagu intentionally created discussion juice brand to create discussion on plastic usage among public. He revealed that a shocking 41% of plastic in the ocean is still made up of ghost nests. He shared that a farmer invented rice that can survive in seawater, thus sustaining livelihood even when sea level rises.
Lastly, he urged everyone not to quit your day job to join the tribe in the centre of certain forest for the fight against deforestation, but instead start from our everyday conscious choices of consumption for a sustainable lifestyle.
Underwater Film ‘Snake Sisters’ World Premiere
Producer and lead actress Yolanda Yao, a SSI Instructor, was in the Roosevelt Room for the media launch of her ‘Snake Sisters’ film premiere, and together with her co-actress shared on the challenges faced during the journey of the all-underwater film with strong acting cast and action director who had worked with Jacky Chan before. ‘Snake Sister’ is inspired the Chinese legend of snake demon battling with holy bronze monks for her lover.
Welcome Dinner ‘Under the Moonlight”
‘Under the Moonlight’ is a welcome dinner for invited VIPs of PHIDEX, where leaders and professional of dive, film and tourism industry enjoy a buffet dinner with one another alongside stage performance of string ensemble and beautiful songs, as well as live sand art spectacular.
As PHIDEX Day 1 closes on a high note, look forward to the exciting programme line up and international dive exhibitions on PHIDEX Day 2!
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