Former Tourism Secretary and my dear friend Mina Gabor never ceases to amaze me. Long after her stint at the Department of Tourism ended, she is still actively pursuing projects that help the industry take big and bold steps forward.
Seven years ago, together with a group of professionals with extensive experience, she put up the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) at Subic Bay Freeport Zone to train and educate people towards empowering them to help uplift communities with ecological resources that need to be preserved.
The school continues to enjoy good enrolment figures, even attracting students from other countries concerned with sustainable tourism, the current buzzword among countries with tourism as among their top dollar earners.
Sustainable Tourism is the type that minimizes damage to the environment and the local culture and traditions, making the local community benefit from visitor arrivals through economic opportunities that generate income while the ecosystems are being protected.
Not content with her success with ISST, Mina is now moving heaven and earth to promote Farm Tourism, which attracts visitors to agricultural areas, for educational and recreational purposes. The industrialization of farms here and abroad brought about this form of Sustainable Tourism.
Agri-business corporations and farmers, especially those with small, family-owned farms, realized that Farm Tourism could be another way of generating income.
The current trend of health and wellness consciousness all over the world is also a big factor in the rapid growth of Farm Tourism. Many consumers are now looking for local, naturally grown food and new experiences that promote healthy living. The need for farmers to diversify income and the desire of consumers to reconnect with nature come together in Farm Tourism.
Why is Farm Tourism getting popular now?
Visitors find their accommodations right on the farm, to commune with nature, as they go fruit-picking, horseback riding, fishing, or even livestock feeding. They can also go on guided walks along farm trails, and whatever items they fancy, usually fresh produce, they can easily buy from the farm’s gift shop.
These farms can also be venues for special events, like weddings, baptisms, and anniversaries, or even for training sessions on the farm’s best practices.
The popularity of Farm Tourism has pushed my trailblazing friend, Mina, to organize a yearly Farm Tourism Conference these past four years. The latest one was held not too long ago at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay, and had a Farmers Market as an added attraction. Participated in by approximately 350 delegates from within the country, and a few from within the Southeast Asian Region, Farm Tourism experts shared their knowledge and best practices.
The management of Gourmet Farms and other successful operators also opened their farms to delegates for experience-based learning, and these lecture-discussions and farm tours provided a holistic approach to a full understanding of this sunrise industry.
It was a very interesting three days for me. It gave me many insights as to what could be done to the little farms in Cebu and in Leyte owned by my family, and how we could make the most out of their revenue-generating potential. I also learned that when your garden becomes the home of many bees, it only means that such specific area has a very well balanced ecosystem, good for the health of everybody living on or near it.
So, let’s have fun at the farms, everyone, as we sing one of my favorite nursery rhymes, “The farmer in the dell, heigh ho the derry-o, the farmer in the dell.”
For feedback, I’m at [email protected]YOUR FRIDAY CHUCKLE
A MARRIED MAN'S PRAYER: Dear God, You gave me childhood, you took it away. You gave me youth, you took it away. You gave me a wife, it's been years now, am just reminding you.
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