TACLOBAN CITY – Southern Leyte’s potential as a diving destination in the dive tourism industry is gaining recognition, with professional underwater photographer and filmmaker Oshim Sommers affirming that the province is already poised for the market.

DIVING SITE. One of the world’s famous photographers, Oshim Sommers, attested the splendor of Sogod Bay saying it is one of the best diving sites he have ever seen.

However, the province faces a challenge, particularly in the accommodation sector, due to the lack of facilities catering to the demands of dive tourism.

Yet, Sommers sees this challenge as an opportunity for Southern Leyte’s dive tourism industry. By targeting a specialized segment of divers, the province can avoid the influx of mass divers, which has led to damage in dive sites elsewhere, he said.

“I think diving will appeal to a special type of divers. You don’t want mass diving wiping out this beautiful reef system you have here. You want people prepared to appreciate premium experiences, willing to pay a premium, and committed to maintaining premium reefs,” Sommers explained.

He emphasized the importance for the local government and tourism sector to attract tourists and divers who seek more than just Instagram-worthy pictures. Visitors should immerse themselves in the Filipino culture, countryside, and waters while actively contributing to the preservation of marine ecosystems, Sommers added.

Sommers shared his insights during the 2024 Philippine International Diving Expo (PHIDEX 2024) at the World Trade Center. Following the event, he, along with two dive tour operators, explored dive sites in Southern Leyte from Feb 26 to March 1.

The Department of Tourism in Eastern Visayas acknowledges Southern Leyte’s emergence as a dive destination but highlights the pressing need for more accommodation facilities.
Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes proposed investment promotion to attract investors for such facilities.

“Dive resorts are still scarce, with demand outweighing supply. The best way to address this is through investment promotion,” she said.

Currently, dive shops with accommodation exist in Padre Burgos town, as well as neighboring towns of Macrohon and Limasawa, and Maasin City.

However, these facilities are insufficient to accommodate divers during peak seasons.
Tiopes stressed the importance of constructing accommodation facilities across the 11 towns surrounding Sogod Bay, where the province’s 33 dive sites are located.

While acknowledging the need for more accommodation facilities, Tiopes echoed Sommers’ sentiments on environmental conservation, emphasizing the importance of protecting Sogod Bay’s marine environment.

During the 2024 PHIDEX at the World Trade Center, DOT Secretary Cristina Frasco announced that the country’s dive industry generated P73 billion in revenue, nearly double the Ph37 billion income in 2022.