November 15, 2021

Urban tourism delivers enormous benefits to businesses, exporters

Bringing farms to cities addresses the food crisis, provides livelihood options, and an avenue for education, additional cash, and community bonding.

Dr. Mina Gabor, head and president of the International School of Sustainable Tourism, so encourages exporters to investigate prospects or grow investments in urban farm tourism, which is recognized as a viable business, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is not just the agricultural tourism operators who benefit from their property. The local businesses also grow because of the increasing number of visitors who have needs to be satisfied. Even exports can gain from farm tourism, with the advent of many new artisanal products manufactured on-site,” she noted in a recent webinar and released via a news release on Saturday.

Gabor said numerous products — from packaged foods to those types that can be weaved and embroidered — are now available in farm tourism venues.

“All these contribute to the appreciation of (the) landscape of the rural area. We saw that every time you go to a spot where you have now created farming sites, many of these areas encourage people to keep it clean and (this is) excellent for our environment,” she added.

Gabor said among the positives of farm tourism include enhanced food processing, greater visitor arrivals, investment in rural cuisine, new employment prospects, conservation of the environment, and educational opportunities for locals and tourists alike.

“I have never seen so many innovations in food processing as I have witnessed in the previous two years. Food processing in diverse places has grown nearly every day where you see people producing new food products,” the former Tourism secretary remarked.

Gabor stated one of the main things happening now is the “food-to-table cuisine” where many hotels, restaurants, and other regions just produce or even buy within a particular radius so they are able to serve fresh ingredients originating from the farmers.

“But I think one of the great things is that this whole program of farm tourism and urban farm tourism actually conserves the environment and this is one of the best things that has occurred to us,” she continued.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokeswoman Nina Mangio said the notion of sustainable tourism and agricultural tourism becomes increasingly essential as it not only contributes to the provision of basic food needs of the population but also offers livelihood and job opportunities.

“This is particularly critical during the present pandemic. Everyone is driven to innovate and take full advantage of any possibility to start new firms in any market that has gotten more limited due of health-related restrictions,” she said.

Mangio stated sustainable farm tourism is not only a successful business but is also worthwhile advocacy towards the protection of the environment and natural resources.

“(And) since it may take a while before we can again attract a sizable number of foreign tourists, domestic tourists can provide a more immediate boost to the industry and farm tourism can provide a refreshing new option for locals who may not want to travel far from their places of residence because of the fear of infection,” she added.

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