JULY 16, 2018-INITIATIVE OF FARM TOURISM TAKING ROOT IN THE PHILIPPINES
THE PHILIPPINES hopes to boost farm tourism as it hosts the Global Farm Tourism Summit from July 17 to 19 at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay City. Dr Mina Gabor, president of the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), said the event would be an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences among the countries, as well as local delegates, participating in the international conference. She would particularly want to see more local government officials participate so they could learn from their colleagues, who had successfully pursued farm tourism, how the initiative was helping their communities and how it could be adopted in other places. The former tourism secretary said more Filipino farmers were becoming interested in developing their farms into tourist destinations to supplement their income from crop production. Demand for this kind of travel program was growing, she said. The idea of organised farm visits was boosted significantly when they decided to call it farm tourism instead of the old agritourism, she said. With incentives and other forms of support being extended under the Farm Tourism Development Act, more farmers were opening up their land to visitors. Many farms were drawing both local and foreign tourists and had also become learning centers, Gabor said. Visits by students were organised so they could learn firsthand about farming and farmers. The summit’s theme, “Managing Climate Risks through Sustainable Farm Tourism,” was very relevant, Gabor said, as farmers were among the most vulnerable to weather disturbances. But they could also contribute significantly to reducing its negative impact through smart, more environment-friendly agricultural practices. Gabor said farm tourism was not only helping increase farmers’ incomes but was also drawing back to the farms many young people who had turned their backs on their families’ means of livelihood. With their children in charge of the financial aspect of the business, prices of produce had become more realistic as labor cost was now being factored in. Young people were employing new technologies and using social media to increase their farms’ appeal to tourists and to promote them as destinations.