DoT banks on farm tourism to expand visitor arrivals

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Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp. offers cacao farm tours, including a stop at their interactive Chocolate Museum in Davao City. -- BW FILE PHOTO

By Maya M. Padillo,

DAVAO CITY — The Department of Tourism (DoT) is making a push for more farm tourism destinations around the country to help bring in its target eight million arrivals this year.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Eden Josephine L. David told reporters that the department’s campaigns and programs for this year aim to strengthen partnerships with the agriculture sector.

“It’s really tripartite partnerships and the private sector is part of this, such as the tour operators, farm tourism operators, commerce cooperatives — and  we are also being assisted by the academe,” Ms. David said.

There are currently 34 accredited farm tourism facilities around the country, she said, and the DoT wants to increase the number by helping potential sites by holding training programs to improve facilities and promotion.

In Davao operators are offering “fruit tours,” highlighting the region’s produce such as banana and durian.

The DoT is also working with Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp., which has a mountain-garden resort in Davao City and is a leading producer of cocoa as well as its own brand of chocolate.

“When you think of Davao you think of durian, chocolate or pomelo. When we think of Baguio, we think of strawberry; Calabarzon coffee; GenSan (General Santos City) tuna. So this is destination marketing,” she said.

The DoT official also said that boosting farm tourism will contribute to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) food security initiatives.

Republic Act 10816, or the Farm Tourism Development Act, designates the DoT secretary as chair of the Farm Tourism Development Board while the DA head is vice-chair.

Ms. David said farm tourism also makes agriculture attractive to younger generations.

“To engage the young generation, we present a sexy aspect of farming like farm tourism,” she said.

Ms. David said marketing programs should be supported by measures improving connectivity within the archipelago. “If we’re not interconnected, like air and land connectivity, that is a challenge.”

The DoT set a target of at least 6.7 million tourists in 2017. As of the first 10 months last year, the DoT reported 5.47 million arrivals.