On July 8, 2016 at the Presscon on Philippines’ 4th Farm Tourism Conference at Sofitel, Dr. Mina Gabor, the former Department of Tourism Secretary, now head of International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) said that the event is tied up with the UN’s theme this year as Year of the Pulses (Pulses, means dried grains). It aims to give information about farm tourism for all interested individuals to gain new insights on how to start a farm and make it attractive to tourists.
During the open forum, one question raised from the audience was about how much will it cost to start a farm. She said that you can start a simple farm tourism site for less than a million, or at least 500 thousand pesos. Then it’s up to the owner to add extra farm activities to make it sustainable as it drives more income to your farm.
Dr. Gabor also mentioned that the Philippines is the safest and the most pleasant place to stay for tourists. To find out why, here’s our quick interview with her.
Farmers Notebook: You have mentioned earlier that Philippines is the most pleasant place to stay, why is that?
Dr. Mina Gabor: Well, right now, credit to the last administration, we’re able to create an image of a good place for investment and a good place to do business. Business will not go to a place that is not pleasant. So either you have good tourism and business comes after, or good business and then tourism comes after. That means the place is conducive. Besides, there is no country right now in the world that is not menaced by anybody. Right now, you cannot say this country is secure, or this country is not secure. Even the most secure country, nagugulat na lang sila bigla (they were surprised all of a sudden) something happened.
Right now, I think tanggap ng mga tao (people now has accepted) that food security is not present in anyone – is not an inclusivity in any country. That means we have to be prepared. And as good travelers, we should know where to go and when to go. When you are there, you should know which places can you go, and that is basic travel planning.
What I am saying, is that the places you should avoid, you should not go. So Luzon and Visayas – they are all 90% secure and there’s no problem. So it’s very pleasant to go and is very interesting. Also, the development of farm tourism is very high in these areas right now.
FN: Are we competitive enough in terms of farm tourism and among Asian countries?
MG: A yeah yeah. Very much. O yes!
The most advance farm tourism site now is Taipei (Taiwan), Japan, a little bit of Australia, a lot of North America, a little bit of South America and as much as American Europe, because they were the first to develop farm tourism. Italy is the father of farm tourism in the real sense of the word.
FN: What then is our edge?
MN: Our edge is our natural way of hospitality. Very natural sa atin yon e (That”s very natural to us). While the others… well, I traveled ASEAN recently. Hospitable din naman sila (they are also hospitable). Kaya lang sa atin, ang hospitality natin is open arms, parang no limit (Thing is, our hospitality is open arms and almost without limits). Sa kanila ang hospitality ay di ka basta makakarating sa bahay nila (Hospitality for them means you can’t easily get access into their own homes). They are very good but not open to anybody. Sa atin kasi sa mga bahay, they really let us go in; so, all the way talaga (Its really an all the way thing, because to us, we really make our homes readily accessible to them).
Filipinos are known for being hospitable and that’s one sure advantage. Its also an assurance that anyone can visit the Philippines not only for its beautiful beaches but also its developing farm tourism sites including a number of organic farms around the country.
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