AS VIABLE TOURIST SPOTS
Local and foreign tourists interested in experiencing life on Philippines farms first hand can add farm visits to their travel itinerary after House Bill 3745 becomes the Farm Tourism Act.
“Milking cows, fruit-picking, harvesting vegetables, fishing, horseback riding, watching butterflies, tending bees, tasting wines or juices, and sight-seeing are just some of the exciting recreational and educational activities tourists can do in a farm tourist spots,” HB 3745 author AAMBIS-Owa Representative Sharon Garin said.
Garin said farms can be viable tourist destinations after the Farm Tourism Act is signed into law.
“The fusion of tourism and agriculture will benefit both sectors as it will boost the country’s economy by improving the income and potential economic viability of small farms and rural communities.” Garin pointed out.
The House Committee on Tourism concluded the hearing on HB 3745 with farm owners, tourism officers, agriculture experts and other stakeholders and government officials last August.
Street food vendor turned millionaire-farm owner Desiree Duran said she is living proof that farm tourism is a viable economic venture.
It was 2001 when Duran first embarked on planting off-season vegetables. Over the years, her backyard farm grew into a 3.6 hectare farm land now known as Duran Farm.
Duran farm, located in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, is a known farm tourist destination in Luzon where local and foreign visitors go to learn about best practices in vegetable production.
Her farm also serves as venue for private companies who are conducting their seminars and training for their clients.
University of South Eastern Philippines Professor Fernando Magdato, Jr believes that agri-tourism will encourage farmers to preserve their lands and prevent agri-land conversions helping promote food security in the country.
The bill seeks to create a Philippine Farm Tourism Industry Development Coordinating Council under the Department of Tourism to ensure the development and promotion of farm tourism in the Philippines.
Farm tourism is already a thriving industry in many parts of the world with each country having their unique selling points.
A good example is the sweet potato-based, tea-based, and pomelo-based farm tourism industry in Taiwan.
Malaysians have coconut-based farms for tourists. In Indonesia, orange-picking tours are well-known.
In Japan, rice-based farm tours are renowned. /MP