MANILA, Philippines — The local agritourism has failed to fully develop this year due to insufficient funds and lack of government support.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) said the farm tourism's non-inclusion in the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) 2017 and the lack of financing have hindered the development of the sector.
SEARCA has been advocating local agritourism since 2012, believing it will create more rural jobs and increase farmers' income.
"Southeast Asia is blessed with natural resources, some have the potential to contribute substantially to the region's economy. Just like in the Mekong sub-region, they recognized that agriculture and tourism are not totally mutually exclusive. These have convergence points that bring value added to each other," SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said.
However, the Department of Tourism cited the factors that have prevented agritourism from fluorishing. These include lack of marketing and infrastructure support, capacity building of local government units, and technical vocational training for farm tourism operators and practitioners.
There is also inadequate knowledge on manpower needs and sustainable practices, lack of integration of hospitality programs and assistance for farm sanitation and energy management.
"It is imperative to close the gap to ensure that there is a harmonized approach to development, monitoring, and evaluation across all partner agencies," DoT Farm and Ecotourism head Gwendolyn Batoon said.
"A strategic plan has been presented to iron out the gaps that will make the Philippines benchmark with the progressive farm tourism prominence of Japan and Thailand," she added.
DoT is adopting the "Philippine brand" which patterns after Thailand's use of its unique identity of farming rice and silk while promoting its canal waterways as conveyors of marketing farm produce.
Batoon said the government needs to promote destinations as sources of specialty products as this will expand the small and medium enterprise supply chain.
"Agritourism has the potential to enhance the appeal and demand for local products not only to the domestic market but to the international travellers who can be the catalyst for growth in the international market," she added
Farm tourism mainstreamed in 2012 starting with the Costales Nature Farm in Laguna. The country now has more than 100 accredited establishments nationwide, majority of which are located in Luzon.
It is under the umbrella of nature tourism that holds around 20 to 30 percent of the overall tourism market in the country.