THE PHILIPPINES' farm tourism sites have helped boost the country's tourism potential, as total foreign visitor arrivals attributed to agri-tourism grew by 10.24% in January to May last year.
"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%," Rose H. Libongco of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMA) was quoted as saying in a statement.
She said this during a Global Farm Tourism Summits co-hosted by Southeast Asian Regional Center for graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)
"As of January to May 2018, foreign visitor arrivals totaled 3.177 million, a 10.24% growth from the same period in 2017," it was noted in the statement.
Broken down, 22.2% of tourists come from Korea; 8.68% from Japan; 3.79% from Canada; 3.19% from Taiwan; 2.83% from United Kingdom; 2.39% from Singapore; and 1.92% from Malaysia.
Other countries considered to be top agri-tourism destinations are Taiwan, Hawaii, Tuscany, Grenada, Mallorca, California, and Brazil.
Ms. Libongco said the country is a good agri-tourism destination because of its natural resources and biodiversity; how the country's farming history is reflected in its folk songs; and Filipinos' natural hospitality and openness to welcoming visitors.
Some of the top farm tourism destinations are organic farms, nature-friendly farms, and health and wellness farms.
In order to further promote farm tourism sites, she encouraged farm owners to develop websites. "Online availability is important in this social media era. People will find you first online. Online websites establish your credibility as a business," she noted.
Several local government units have started promoting local tourism, which has greatly fueled local job creation. For one, La Union Governor Francisco Emmanuel Pacoy R. Ortega III said during the event that the province saw a 25% growth in tourist arrivals in 2018 as it is known to be the country's surfing capital.
There are 23 farm tourism sites in La Union with average income of P25,000 to P60,000 per month. The province's tourism gives jobs to 100 locals and 50 household members.
To further develop this, the La Union Investment Program has a P25.2 billion budget from 2018 to 2022, which extends help to small and medium enterprises through providing equipment and machinery, post-harvest facilities, and organic farming and construction of roads and other infrastructures.