THE Department of Tourism (DOT) said it is poised to launch emerging faith and farm tourism destinations this year.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said she has instructed the sector to focus on the promotion of faith-based tourism products in different regions of the Philippines, the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia.
DOT's faith-based tourism program aims to also highlight festivals and Filipino traditions that will create a holistic pilgrimage experience.
Faith and Farm Tourism Undersecretary Marco Bautista, in a statement, said that under the new sector there will be "enhanced promotions of the country's rich cultural heritage embodied in the historical, architectural and religious significance of numerous churches and age-old traditions."
In a related development, the DOT's thrust to promote farm tourism has earned the support of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
In a statement, SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the center sees farm tourism as a key to help lift farmers out of poverty in the midst of Southeast Asia's economic integration. He said agri-tourism could be an innovative pathway to bring small farmers into the bigger supply chains.
SEARCA is organizing the first Global Farm Tourism Summit in July. It will highlight the 12 eco-tourism sites identified by the government. Co-organized by International School of Sustainable Tourism, it also aims to seize a portion of the one-billion tourist market, of whom 30 percent are into "nature tourism."
The GFST aims to gather 500 participants to share best practices, technologies, and products from around the world. (KOC)