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The Farm Tourism Summit

Here goes the tireless Mina Gabor once again. The former Tourism secretary, now president of the International School of Sustainable Tourism located in Subic, is putting up this timely Global Farm Tourism Summit scheduled on July 17-19 at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay City.

Timely, because the potential for Farm Tourism to generate a lot of revenues for the country and for the farmers involved, is so big and, yet, still untapped. This event will make those with farms, no matter how small they are, aware of the benefits of adding a tourism component to farming.  

Through experiential learning by way of farm visits, participants will learn how to promote and sell raw farm produce, packaged food items, or other innovative retail items that showcase the best of the country.

The indefatigable former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor
Children of farmers in the countryside are known to prefer work in the urban jungle, which is the reason why the farming industry is in the doldrums. This summit will make farmers, big or small, realize that they will earn more from Farm Tourism than from purely planting and harvesting of crops.  

It has been noted that, in areas where Farm Tourism has been established and running successfully, the farmers’ children, who earlier left for “the big city,” are now coming back, to make easy money on their own farms.  

With the full support of Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla, the event will have leading personalities with expertise on the various factors that make sustainable farm tourism possible in the country. Expected keynote speaker is Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who fully supports this undertaking, having spent several years of government service in the Department of Agriculture. 

Cainta, Rizal Vice Mayor Pia Schuck-Velasco will shed light on Millennial Farmers, while Dimatiling, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Maria Dolores Baya will expound Women Empowerment in Farm Tourism, and Raymund Aaron of Villa Socorro Agri-Eco Villages will teach attendees new sustainable practices.

Another interesting discussion will be that of Climate-Resilient Crops by DA director Angel Enriquez, and of Investment Planning Towards Climate-Smart Farm Tourism by Dindo Campilan who is the director for Asia of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam.

More interesting discussions are slated for the event’s second day. Rapha Valley owner Dr. Albert Jo will share their Best Practices, while DA director Dr. Vivencio Mamaril will talk about Local Organic Farming Standards and Accreditation, and its Internationally Accepted Processes.

Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Jesus Domingo will expound Farm Tourism in that country, while Tan Thi Su of Sapa O’Chau, Vietnam will share her country’s Best Practices for a Unique Farm Stay Experience. Rose Libongco, president of the Movement of Incentive Travel Executives will talk about Farm Stay Experience in our country.

A critical component for a successful Farm Tourism industry is the support of local government units, which is the reason why the following speakers have been invited to shed light on how to make this endeavor a success in the countryside: Surigao del Sur Vice Governor Manuel Alameda Sr., La Union Governor Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, and Thailand’s Sampran Riverside managing director Arrut Navaraj.

There will also be a panel discussion on Farm Tourism Country Models. Dr. Lock-Hwan Jo of the National Institute of Agricultural Science in South Korea will discuss the Korean Model. Ohtawara Tourism Co. president Daisuki Fujii will talk about the Taiwan Model, while DoT Region 4A director Vernie Morales will shed light on the Philippines Model.

To complete the three-day event, participants will visit the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in Silang, Cavite, for an in-depth discussion on its programs and projects. The day will be capped by a tour to a Sustainable Farm Tourism model.

Another personality who will grace the summit is Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture and Food Committee. She is also an advocate of Farm Tourism. In fact, on her own, she spearheaded the development of various Farm Tourism sites and learning centers all over the country. She is scheduled to do the Closing Address. 

I asked the indefatigable Mina Gabor what keeps her going, because, ever since her term as Tourism secretary ended, she has never stopped buzzing around with all kinds of tourism-related events. She confided that every time she sees an opportunity for a stronger and more profitable tourism industry, she grabs it right away and puts up an activity to share it with others. She believes that, always, time is of the essence, thus her quick response to any golden opportunity she sees.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture and Food Committee
But there was one very interesting revelation she shared with us, in response to my question of where she gets the stamina for her non-stop projects. She told us of her vision of the Blessed Mother, with photos which she readily fished out of her wallet, to prove her claim. I could see that her faith and love for our Lord’s Mother is so strong, I knew right away that is where she gets all her energy from. All the “goosebumpy” stories of her heavenly encounters certainly deserve another column…for another time. Suffice it for the moment to say that Farm Tourism is the way to go for our country’s farmers, big and small.

For feedback, I’m at [email protected]

Topics: Mina Gabor , International School of Sustainable Tourism , Global Farm Tourism Summit , Senator Cynthia Villar
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