MANILA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Local officials were urged on Saturday to help in the efforts by the national government to make the Philippines into a "dive capital" of the Asian region.
Ronaldo Puno, Interior Secretary of the country, asked the local government units to take measures that would standardize the collection of recreational diving fees and utilize such revenues to implement marine conservation and coastal livelihood programs.
He asked the executives of areas where dive sites are located to set up coastal resources management bodies to help preserve eco-tourism sites and conserve the country's marine lives.
The statement was made after the Department of the Interior and Local Government signed a Joint Memorandum Circular earlier this week with the Departments of Tourism (DOT) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The circular covered guidelines on the management of dive sites in an initial list of 49 cities and municipalities.
"All of us are stakeholders here and, given the new imperatives of a world under siege from environmental degradation and a deepening financial contagion, this joint undertaking promises to be an excellent vehicle for us to turn the country into a world-class dive haven despite the prevailing global threats," said the official.
Scuba diving tourism is one bright spot in the services sector when it comes to generating revenues and livelihood opportunities at a time when the world is saddled with a long-winding business slump and job losses, he added.
The country boasts of its dive sites in Puerto Galera, Anilao, Busuanga and the Coron Bay, considered among the best in the world.