Last July 1 2015, Farm Tourism Conference which started in 2013, held their 3-day annual event at Batis Aramin, Lucban, Quezon. Delegates composed of Municipal Mayors, Tourism Officers from various Municipalities as well as farm owners from all over the Philippines attended the said event. Aptly themed “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life” , this year was the biggest and well-attended event according to Dr. Mina Gabor, former Tourism Secretary and now president of International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) – a school which offers intensive short-term certificate programs on community based rural tourism, in partnership with the Department of Tourism and Agricultural Training Institute. Farm Tourism Conference, was borne out of Dr. Gabor’s inspiration and experiences from her travels abroad during her stint as Tourism Secretary as well as his personal love for farming. And since going back to private NGO work, she thought Farm Tourism is the area she wanted to focus on.
Make no mistake, there is little or no difference between farm tourism and agritourism. “It’s the same, except just for the branding” said Dr. Gabor. Most stakeholder are small and medium farms or family farms. “The thing when you call it Agri, you often associate it with large tracts of land that they didn’t see the different angles of farm activities like lectures, cooking demos, etc. For me farm is more saleable for tour programs – it’s easy to sell.” Dr. Gabor added.
When asked what was the Conference expected output were, Dr. Gabor said “We want people who are not yet into farm tourism to see the success stories. And for those who are already into farm tourism – how else they can improve the development of their farms.”
Among this years speakers were: Leo Libreja (Bicol Strawberry Farm), Avelino Lomboy (Lomboy Farms), Flor Tariela (Flor’s Garden), Daisy Duran (Duran Farm), Edita A. Dacuycuy (RefMad Farms), Mon Penalosa (Penalosa Farm), Costales Nature Farms, Agrea Farm Tourism, Bryan Benitez McLelland (Bambike), Nurture Wellness Village, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).
If you are interested in farm tourism, here are the things you should watch out:
- The Farm Tourism Act of 2015 now pending in the Senate whose main proponent is Sen. Cynthia Villar. In the said Act, duly accredited farm tourism professionals and operators are entitled to incentives and tax exemptions pursuant to existing laws such as Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010; of RA 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997, as amended by Republic Act 9281; Republic Act 9178 or the Barangay micro business enterprises (BMBE’s) Act of 2002; and Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, among others.
- The creation of Farm Tourism School
- The creation of Farm Tourism Speakers Club
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