The Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Philippines just kick-started a new promotion project – It’s More Fun in Philippine Farms. It aspires to bring farm tourism to the centre stage due to its rising popularity with travellers. The new program was launched last 23 Oct 2017, in cooperation with other government agencies.
The unveiling of the program and its corresponding symbol was headed by Wanda Teo, Tourism Secretary, AAMBIS-OWA representative Sharon Garin, and Senator Cynthia Villar.
The program also includes three meetings in different venues around the country, a search for Farm Tourism envoys, and the Sunshine Tourism Awards, which gives recognition to best practices in the field of farm tourism.
“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,” tourism undersecretary Frederick Alegre said during his opening speech at the program’s launching.
“While Bahay Kubo boasts the joys of growing vegetables in your backyard, Magtanim ay ‘di Biro depicts the image of farming as an arduous endeavour. With modernization catching up, it is time to change the image of farming as a back-breaking work,” he continued.
Alegre further noted that DOT has already identified tourism-worthy ones among the existing farm tourism spots in the country. Along with its partner agencies, the department is now collaborating for project funding as well as the skills they need for the program.
In relation to this, DOT undersecretary Silvino Tejada, who will serve as the program’s head, released a statement saying that farm tourism will become tourism industry’s strong foundation.
“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.
Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia Villar, the author of the Farm Tourism Development Act expressed her pleasure after the DOT heeded her call for the inclusion of tourism farms into their programs.
“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 a 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,” Villar said.
She added that she was happy of the current rising farm tourism trend in the country, and she hoped that the new tourism industry would inspire the younger generation to study farming so that they can generate more income to the farmers.
On the other hand, Rep. Sharon Garin, the House of Representatives’ bill sponsor, expressed the same hopes as the senator.
The streamlining of the program will be spearheaded by the transitional Farm Tourism Development Board comprised of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as well as representatives from the private sector.