Exporters are encouraged to explore opportunities or expand investments in urban farm tourism deemed a viable business especially during this pandemic.
Dr. Mina Gabor, chair and president of International School of Sustainable Tourism, said bringing farms in the cities addresses food shortage, provides livelihood opportunities, and an avenue for education, additional revenue, and community bonding.
“It is not just the farm tourism operators who benefit from their site. The local businesses also thrive because of the increased number of visitors who have needs to be met. Even exports can benefit from farm tourism, with the rise of many new artisanal products made onsite,” she said in a webinar.
Gabor said many products –from packaged foods to those types that can be woven and embroidered– are now available in many of the farm tourism sites.
“All these contribute to the appreciation of (the) landscape of the rural area. We noticed that everytime you go to a place where you have now developed farming sites, many of these areas encourage people to keep it clean and (this is) good for our environment,” she added.
Gabor cited advantages of farm tourism, including improved food processing, increased visitor arrivals, investment in rural cuisine, new employment opportunities, conservation of the environment, and educational opportunities for locals and tourists alike.
“I have never seen so many developments in food processing as I have seen in the last two years. Food processing in different areas has become almost every day where you find people developing new food products,” she said.
Gabor said one of the important things happening today is the “food-to-table cuisine” where many hotels, restaurants, and other areas just produce or even buy within a certain radius so they are able to provide fresh products coming from the farms.
“But I think one of the exciting things is that this whole program of farm tourism and urban farm tourism actually conserves the environment and this is one of the best things that ever happened to us,” she added.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Consul Nina Mangio said the concept of sustainable tourism and farm tourism becomes more relevant as it not only contributes to the production of basic food needs of the citizenry, but also creates livelihood and job opportunities.
“This is particularly important during the current pandemic. Everyone is forced to innovate and take full advantage of any opportunity to create new businesses in any economy that has grown more limited because of health-related restrictions,” she said.
Mangio said sustainable farm tourism thus is not only a viable business, but is also a worthwhile advocacy towards protection of the environment and natural resources.
“(And) since it may take a while before we can again able to attract sizable numbers of foreign tourists, domestic tourists can provide a more immediate boost to the industry and farm tourism can provide a refreshing new option for locals who may not want to travel far from their places of residence because of the fear of infection,” she added.