MANILA-- What gives the Philippines potential to be Asia's top freediving destination is not just its incredible marine life, but also its people.
French celebrity freediver Guillaume Nery made this remark during the recent Philippine Freediving Expedition press conference in Cebu City expressing gratitude for recently being named the face of Philippine freediving.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier announced that Nery will be helping the agency in its efforts to position the country as the Freediving Capital of Asia as Philippine Freediving ambassador.
"I'm very proud to be the ambassador for Philippine Freediving because I really believe that the Philippines can become a central place for the development of freediving not only in Asia but all over the world," Nery said.
"The Philippines is full of treasures, full of incredible marine life and that's what makes a place attractive for free divers," he added.
The DOT and Nery said that they will soon be exploring possibility of staging a freediving world championship in the Philippines in the next few years in its continuing bid to establish the country as a top freediving destination.
Nery, meanwhile, expressed hope that more Filipinos would support the freediving activities and open additional free diving centers all over the Philippines.
DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development Benito Bengzon Jr., for his part, said that the agency recognized the potential for the watersport activity to attract more tourists to the county targeting 10 percent of European divers who are into freediving as recreational sport.
Our National Tourism Development Plan identifies diving as one of our primary tourism products, Bengzon, who is also a certified open water diver, said.
He further said that once the DOT comes up with specific segments like advance and beginner dive, underwater macro photography and now freediving, it can help establish freediving in the Philippines and be competitive in the global market.
Nery, who teaches and conducts training at the Centre International de Plongee en Apnee, the main freediving club in France, is currently in the Philippines to host a three-day freediving workshop participated in by locals and foreigners.
He will also be touring the Barracuda and Kayangan Lake of Coron alongside its famous shipwreck dive sites and Cathedral Cave, conducting marine conservation activities with SulubaaA� Environment Foundation and discovery mermaiding with Odessa Mermaid Academy in El Nido.
The freediving celebrity will also be attending the screening of five Les Films Englouttis films, and a meet and greet in Mactan, Cebu.
There will also be another three-day workshop slated in Moalboal from August 4 to 6 with the final leg at Davao for a freediving interaction with the Badjaos, infamous sea gypsies of the country.
Freediving Planet, a Philippine-based free diving center with branches in Moalboal, Cebu, Coron and El Nido, Palawan, Siargao, Surigao del Norte, and Hongkong, is one of the pioneer free diving centers in the country and is DOT's partner in arranging the month-long expedition of Nery.
Source: Philippines News Agency