GARIN BILL TO BOOST AGRI-TOURISM SECTOR STEPS CLOSER TO APPROVAL INTO LAW
The Committee on Tourism in the House of Representatives approved on October 22 the bill to institutionalize the promotion of select farms in the Philippines as viable tourist spots.
“Local and foreign tourists interested in experiencing life on farms first hand can add farm visits to their travel itinerary after House Bill 3745 becomes the Farm Tourism Act,” said AAMBIS-Owa Party list Representative Sharon Garin, principal author of the measure.
The bill enumerates the exciting and educational activities that any tourist can enjoy while visiting farm tourist spots. These are milking cows, fruit-picking, harvesting vegetables, fishing, horseback riding, watching butterflies, tending bees, tasting wines or juices, and sight-seeing.
HB 3745 enjoys the support of many lawmakers. Albay Representative Fernando Gonzalez is excited about the passage of the measure saying that the fusion of tourism and agriculture will benefit both sectors. It will boost the country’s economy by improving the income and economic potentials of small farms and rural communities.
Once the bill becomes a law, there shall be at least one (1) tourism farm in each of the 81 provinces in the country.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the local government units, will identify the feasible farm tourism sites.
In crafting the measure, farm owners, tourism officers, agriculture experts, other stakeholders, and government officials were consulted for months by the Tourism Committee chaired by Bohol 1st District Representative Rene Relampagos.
Street food vendor turned millionaire-farm owner Desiree Duran said she is a living proof that farm tourism is a viable economic venture.
It was 2001 when Duran first embark on planting off-season vegetables. Over the years, her backyard farm grew into a 3.6 hectare farm land now known as the Duran Farm.
The bill seeks to create a Philippine Farm Tourism Industry Development Coordinating Council under the DOT 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. An example is the sweet potato-based, tea-based, and pomelo-based farm tourism industry in Taiwan. /MP