THE Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 is urging farm owners to have their farms accredited with the agency now that the industry is waiting for the approval of the Farm Tourism Action Plan 2019 to 2022.
Gelena Asis-Dimpas, DOT 7 chief tourism operation officer, told SunStar Cebu that the projects and proposals covered in the action plan include strategies that can develop a simple farm into an attractive tourist destination.
“We have financing on infrastructure development for the farm in coordination with other government agencies, as well as product development where farms will venture to tourism,” she said.
Dimpas said a farm needs to be able to brand itself from just an area of harvesting produce into a whole place where it can accept tourists and provide satisfactory activities to encourage repeat visits.
The DOT 7 said it has been going around the region to meet the different farm owners. It conducted its first farm tourism workshop on March 18, 2019 in Cebu and on June 6 in Bohol.
The agency showed a research-based study about farm tourism and the different approaches like niche marketing to capture both local and foreign tourists who are into organic farm-to-table produce.
“Aside from the local demands, we also have players in the niche market who are not just into farming but also in culinary and wellness,” she said.
The DOT has already accredited six farms in the region - two in Cebu, two in Negros Oriental and one each in Bohol and in Siquijor.
The farms that were accredited were Lamac Integrated Organic Farm School in Pinamungajan, Cebu; Arapal Nature Retreat in Bogo City, Cebu; Vita Isola Leisure Farm in Loon, Bohol; Ocean View Farm and Cottages in Maria, Siquijor; Mahogany Upland Resort and Baslay Coffee Farm both in Dauin, Negros Oriental.
For a farm to be accredited, it needs to have the basic requirements like a reception area to receive and orient the guests, a farm guide, safety signages around the site to guide tourists, and fire extinguishers, in case of unforeseen emergencies.
The DOT 7 said it wants to support the farm sites in the region as farm tourism is gaining popularity around the globe.
“We have many farmlands and farm owners are looking for ways for new opportunities to make the most of their existing farms. They were encouraged because of the Republic Act 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016. And there’s also the growing interest of the public for fresh produce,” said Dimpas.
The RA 10816 aims to provide income opportunities for farmers in the aspect of tourism by making it possible for a farm to become a destination for locals and foreigners.
According to former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, 30 percent of the tourists now are interested in nature or eco-tourism and that the Philippines, being an agricultural country, can take advantage of this.
“With our resources, we can be a major player in this new market,” said Gabor, adding that in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is leading the way for farm tourism. JOB with KOC