Farm tourism sites boosted Ph’s tourism potential, foreign visitor arrivals growing by 10.24%

PHOTO Gapuz Grape Farm
Gapuz Grape Farm, La Union
April 26, 2019

Farm tourism sites have boosted Philippines’ tourism potential as the country is now a top agri-tourism destination with foreign visitor arrivals growing by 10.24%, hitting all-time high of 732,506 arrivals in a single month in 2018.

The country is now among top agri-tourism destinations in the world, Rose H. Libongco of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Assn Int. (HSMA) said during a Global Farm Tourism Summit co-hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

PHOTO La Union FArmer Field Schools
La Union Farmer Field Schools

Other top agri-tourism destinations are Taiwan, Hawaii, Tuscany, Grenada, Mallorca, California, and Brazil. As of January to May 2018, foreign visitor arrivals totalled 3.177 million, a 10.24% growth from the same period in 2017.

The Philippines, according to Libongco, is highly suitable as an agri-tourism destination considering these factors:

.It is an agricultural tropical country rich in natural resources and biodiversity in land, air, and sea
•Its farming heritage is reflected in folk songs such as Bahay Kubo
•Filipinos have innate hospitality and openness that make transition from pure farming to welcome visitors easy.

PHOTO Lotus Farm, La Union
Lotus Farm La Union

The country’s tourists come from Korea, 22.2% share; Japan, 8.68%; Australia, 3.79%; Canada, 3.43%; Taiwan, 3.19%; United Kingdom, 2.83%; Singapore, 2.39%; Malaysia, 1.92%.

SEARCA has supported farm tourism promotion in the country as the sector creates multiple revenue streams for farmers, improving profitability of small and medium enterprises (SME).

In order to market farm tourism sites, Libongco advised farm owners to put up websites through which global tourists look for places to visit.

“Online availability is important in this social media era. People will find you first online. A website establishes your credibility as a business,” she said.

Local government units (LGUs) have started promoting local tourism, recognizing its contribution to jobs creation.

In La Union, a 25% growth (591,432 tourists in 2017) in tourist arrivals has been noted as the province is also known as the country’s surfing capital, according to La Union Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Pacoy R. Ortega III during the same SEARCA-organized summit.

PHOTO Malagos Garden REsort
Malagos Garden, Davao City

There are 23 farm tourism sites in La Union including grape farms in Bauang and family farms including Rocapor’s Farm, Fer-gie Navarro Farm which is a certified Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) vegetable farm, Lomboy Farm, and Lotus Farm. Tourism gives jobs to 100 locals and 50 household members.

Average income of farm tourism sites is P25,000 to P60,000 per month. There were 18,000 visitors to its farm tourism sites in 2017, growing from 7,000 in 2016.

The La Union Investment Program is also supporting overall economic development with a P25.2 billion budget from 2018 to 2022. It extends assistance to tourism SMEs through provision of equipment, farm machinery, post harvest facilities, and organic farming and construction of provincial roads and other infrastructure.

Organic farms, nature-friendly farms, and health and wellness farms are among the top farm tourism destinations in the PHIlippines.

Villa Socorro

For one, the Villa Socorro Farm in Laguna is an agri-eco village that grows native saba bananas. Its offer is to visit its plant to pack site within 24 hours. Tourists are able to take home farm products—corn pops (wasabi shoyu), banana crisps in caramelized sugar, “Sabanana” cider vinegar, “atsarampalaya” pickled bitter melon, and Ilocos bagnet chicharon.

The farm adopts best green business practice and is participant to the Global Green Growth Institute. It practices rain water harvesting. Its vision is to create a community of empowered farmers with living with pride and dignity.

PHOTO Villa Socorro Farm
Villa Socorro Farm

Malagos Farm

The Malagos Farm in Davao started with the durian and coffee farm in Tagakpan. This was followed by lanzones, pomelo and orchid farms in Cabantian. It then constructed in 1994 a small restaurant and swimming pool and in 1997 an overnight accommodation and resort facilities.

It offers agriculture training—daily module, cacao module, and solid waste management.
It planted narra trees for the bees and bignay to give habitat to birds. It offers a showcase of cultural events and experience tourism including tractor ride around the farm, Malagos farm fair,and interactive bird show. Tourists are able to bring home farm products—orchids, funghi marinate, tableya from cacao, virgin coconut oil, bignay wine, and dairy goat and cow products.

It has further grown as it obtained certification from the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration. Among its best practices are environmental planning, use of vermicomposting, and solid waste management.

Nurture Wellness

The Nurture Wellness Village is a DOT-accredited wellness resort. It focuses on producing nutritious superfoods such as the kale and essential oils that help give jobs to depressed communities. It has holistic, medically-supervised programs that include relaxation practices, exercises, acupuncture, lectures, and therapeutic massage.

It offers barangay organic farming training. It has bokashi kitchen waste recycling, grey water recycling, production of vermicomposts, natural pesticides and fertilizers, and use of old wood.
(Melody Mendoza Aguiba-Growth Publishing for SEARCA)

PHOTO Nurture Wellness promotes food as medicine
Nurture Wellness promotes food as medicine

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