AGRIBUSINESS

Promoting Farm Tourism a Part of DOT’s Plan

04292018_BORACAY_LIFE-GOES-ON_YAP LIFE GOES ON—Locals stroll and enjoy the white beach of Boracay Island in this photo taken April 27, the day after the resort island was closed off to tourists for six months. Department of Tourism (DOT) maintained that economic activities are still ongoing despite the closure. (Tara Yap)

By Yvette Tan

Many things are more fun in the Philippines. Food, beaches, and for a growing number of people, farm tourism.

“Tourism is being recognized as being a major contributor to economic growth,” says Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette “Berna” Romulo-Puyat, adding that tourism comprises 12.4% of the country’s GDP. The industry employs 12.79% of the workforce, a .9% increase from the previous year. 

Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette “Berna” Puyat.

Responsible Tourism

Part of the DoT’s thrust is fostering a culture of responsible tourism. “Tourism is a multifaceted industry and the only way to enhance it is through a holistic development,” Secretary Puyat says. “We want to create a culture of responsible tourism. The national, local, and private sector all have to work together for our tourists and our tourist destinations. We should all be champions of sustainable tourism to create a dependable source of income for Filipinos.” 

She adds: “For us in the Department of Tourism, it is not the numbers that matter the most, but ultimately, we have to strike a balance between business opportunities and social responsibilities. With the tourism sector’s increasing influence over economic and cultural development, we believe that it can also be a force in driving sustainable development in the country. If you don’t take care of your environment, ano na yung tourist destination mo? For your children? So we really have to take care of our environment.” 

Farm Tourism

Like its name implies, farm tourism combines agriculture with tourism. Accredited farms offer visitors various educational and recreational experiences on site, as well as chance to experience farm life. It’s a great way to combine the Philippines’ agricultural heritage and the Filipinos’ famed hospitality. 

Once a hotspot for tourist, Boracay experienced a temporary closure to accommodate a clean-up effort.

“We will be promoting visiting farms,” Secretary Puyat says. “For this year, we only have a small budget for the Farm Tourism Development Act… so we are revising it but of course ang maganda dito ay ang—I’ve been in the DA for close to 12 years. I probably know agri inside and out.”

A Background in Agriculture

Before she was appointed to the DoT, Secretary Puyat spent 12 years working in the Department of Agriculture. “Even when I was in the DA, I was already a supporter of slow food and sustainable dining. Being in the DoT, nag-expand lang, not only for sustainability of dining but the sustainability of the whole tourism,” she says.

She enumerates examples of farm tourism opportunities off the top of her head: “Not many people know that mga April and May you can just go to La Union and go grape picking. Starting October 26, you can go to Camiguin and go lanzones picking.”

Opportunity for Growth

The farm tourism industry has been growing for a while now, and with the rising public awareness on the importance of sourcing local and sustainable ingredients, it a good time to put farm tourism in the DoT spotlight. “When I entered the Department of Agriculture back 2006, when I would tell people I was in the DA, parang move on, parang nothing to talk about. But… as early as 2014, people would join me in my trips when I would go to the farms just so they could experience what it is to be a farmer. And agriculture has never been so important. The farmer is given importance. After all, we are an agricultural country and obviously, that’s very dear to my heart,” Secretary Puyat says.

She adds: “Farming is very important to me and what I love now is a lot of our chefs would rather go local than buy imported. They actually want to go directly—not through a middleman—they want to meet the farmer because they want the farmer’s income to increase. That is one of my goals, and I will give importance to that.”

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Yvette Tan
Yvette Tan is Agriculture magazine's managing editor Agriculture.com.ph’s web editor. She is an award-winning writer who likes to eat, travel, and listen to stories about the strange and supernatural. She is dedicated to encouraging people to push for sustainable food sources and is an advocate of food security, food sovereignty, and the preservation of community foodways.

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    2 Comments

    1. Dearest; Ms. Yvette

      First of all thankyou for featuring Farmtourism here in agriculture.com.ph since our experience in farming is quite difficult and so trying. When that Kalayaan, Laguna news of thrown tomatoes broke out. Our place in Liliw, Laguna has been experiencing the same for so may years. We are already featured in Zac Sarian write-up just last year with the price of tomato so cheap we have to thow it or just leave it not harvested. Same with other vegetables just this year.

      This made us think of other income from Farmtourism by developing our farm into Glamping, Camping site and put up Artisan Lambanog Distillery since price of copra ang other by-products so low due to world price trend.

      We have opened our Farmtourism lately and we were able to host 120 pax of Ayala Mountaineering Club Inc. members on their yearly Orienteering program successfully. We have just hoted also smaller after that.

      We are the first Farmtourism Site of Liliw, Laguna at the foot of Mystical Mt. Banahaw. We hope to help our farming sector as well as tourism as being envisioned by DoT Secretary Bernadette Puno.

      Hoping we could achieve our goal in this new horizzon of farming and tourism venture that may help us overcome the cycle of losses in farming and make it part as farm to table approach to serve visitors.

      Respectfully yours,

      Vic Esmeris

      1. Hello, Vic! Glad you like our article! We hope to publish more like it. For future correspondences, please email us at agriculturemonthly@mb.com.ph Congratulations on your endeavor!

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