The Philippines Moves into Agro-tourism

Philippines, agro-tourism, sustainability

Philippines Department of Tourism together with other government agencies launched at the end of October the It’s More Fun in Philippine Farms program, which aims to encourage travellers to visit the archipelago rural areas by putting the spotlight on farm tourism.

Tourism secretary Wanda Teo, AAMBIS-OWA representative Sharon Garin, and senator Cynthia Villar led the unveiling of the program, including the program’s symbol.

“Throughout history, the Philippines has always been known as an agriculture country. Our traditions abound with reminders of our farming heritage, notably our classic songs ‘Bahay Kubo’ and ‘Magtanim ay di Biro,” said tourism undersecretary Frederick Alegre during his opening remarks in front of local media.

“While ‘Bahay Kubo’ boast the joys of growing vegetables on our backyard, ‘Magtanim ay di Biro’ depicts the image of farming as an arduous endeavor,” he added, saying that with modernization catching up, it was time to change the image of farming as a backbreaking work.

After the press conference, Alegre told reporters that farm tourism sites already existed in the Philippines. However they have now to be better identified and marketed for the public to get awareness.  The DOT also identified a number of farms that were suitable for tourism but have not been promoted as a destination.

“We now have a chance to promote farms aside from beaches, dive spots, adventure sites. Now, we have farm tourism as part of our menu,” Alegre said, adding that farm tourism is becoming very popular in developed countries.

Alegre said that they are now working together with their partners for the funding as well as consult the expertise of the other sectors. Among initiatives to be taken, the government is planning to organize three seminars and summits over Agro and farm tourism and will look for Farm Tourism Ambassadors. Special awards programs will also honour the best practices in agro toruism.

Senator Cynthia Villar, who authored the Farm Tourism Development Act, declared: “I have seen farm tourism in other countries. It ranges from very nice tourist farms to very simple tourist farms. And I tell the farm owners in the Philippines [that] you can be an very expensive tourist farm, if you have a large capital, you can be a small tourist farm if you have less capital. It’s just the same, it’s just about being creative”.

She also said that she was pleased that farm tourism was now getting popular and hoped that this would encourage the youth to study about farming and provide income for the farmers.

DOT undersecretary Silvino Tejada will head the program. In a statement, Tejada said that farm tourism will be a good foundation for the tourism industry.

Agriculture represents the Filipino resiliency and productivity, the same theme showcased in all our ethnic and cultural festivals or fiestas throughout the country. Farm tourism in the Philippines literally means celebration and fun,” he said.