The Workshop on the Development and Marketing of Agrotourism for Increasing Farm Household Income aimed at creating greater awareness among stakeholders in the various sectors—government agriculture, tourism and rural development planners, and trainers, consultants and entrepreneurs—in recognition of their sole in catalyzing knowledge and best practices in the development, promotion and marketing of farms as tourism enterprises. The workshop was conducted in response to the opportunities that agrotourism presents in terms of improving local economic activities especially to farmers and at the same time promoting the preservation of agricultural biodiversity, the environment, and cultural heritage.
The following are the objectives of the project:
a) To enhance participants’ knowledge and appreciation of tourism as a strategy for creating economic opportunities for the rural areas;
b) To assess different agrotourism enterprise that increase farm productivity and incomes; and,
c) To identify strategies for promoting agrotourism as part of local and national tourism attractions as well as agricultural and rural development plans and programs.
OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION
Being the project manager of the Development of Tourism Guidebook for Local Government Units (LGUs) Project currently being undertaken by the Center or Governance of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), I believe this training will be instrumental to a more comprehensive project output (i.e., tourism guidebook) that our team aims to produce. Agricultural tourism has been identified among the emerging types of tourism in the country, especially in the rural areas. To enrich the discussion in this particular topic of the Tourism Guidebook, the APO-sponsored Workshop on the Development and Marketing of Agrotourism for Increasing Farm Household Income will necessarily be of essential aid. The agrotourism experiences and best practices in Bali, Indonesia will provide good models for agricultural tourism that are worth sharing with LGUs in the Philippines.
I expected to gain through this training essential knowledge on the fundamentals and various models of agrotourism. I also expect the training to inform the participants on the application of agrotourism strategies and best practices in other Asian countries. With this I hope that there will be a rich exchange of insights between and among the participants. By the end of the training, I hope to have acquired enough technical know-how to serve as inputs in our current project and at the same time gained appreciation of the agrotourism experiences of Indonesian farmers featured in the training. Given my limited knowledge and experience in this field and my amateurishness in development work in general, I could only consider this training as an opportunity to enhance my skills and knowledge and become better at my work in DAP.
The Local Governance and Development Office of the Center for Governance, to which I belong, also offers LGUs with sustainable tourism planning trainings and technical assistance, among others. This APO workshop will further enhance my capacity to provide LGUs with the necessary technical assistance they need for developing tourism (i.e., agrotourism) in their areas.
There was a total of eighteen (18) participants to the workshop belonging to both the private sector and public sector in fourteen (14) countries namely, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Taiwan), India, Iran, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Participants from the Philippines came from the public sector and private agrotourism enterprise. Kim Dyan Calderon, is an Associate Project Officer at the Development Academy of the Philippines, the National Productivity Organization, while Mrs. Josephine F. Costales serves as the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the Costales Nature Farms, the first agrotourism destination in the Philippines accredited by the Department of Tourism.
Ms. Kim Calderon and Ms. Josephine Costales presented a country report for the Philippine agrotourism. They started with the tourism statistics in the country before showing the different support programs of the government to agrotourism. Despite the lack of focus on agrotourism in the Philippine Development Plan, they reported that there has been a growing recognition of the subsector from the government and actions to provide a national policy for agrotourism. They also showed photos of the unique features of various existing agrotourism sites in the country.
OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION
From the experts’ inputs provided by the resource persons and sharing from the participants of different countries, I could say that the objectives of the workshop have been met. New to the concept and practice of agrotourism, I am grateful for the good start I had into this subsector of tourism. I was also given the chance to know the experiences and goals of practitioners and public sector representatives involved in the agrotourism development in different Asian countries, especially in Bali,Indonesia.
In terms of enhancing my knowledge and appreciation of agrotourism, I have come to learn about the basic concepts, principles, and practices of developing agrotourism initiatives. Given the observational study visit in three agrotourism sites in Bali Indonesia, I was able to assess agrotourism enterprises. The observational study visit did not only allow me an opportunity to apply what I have learned from the experts, but it has also provided me with first hand experience and appreciation of how local sustainable tourism initiatives operate and how communities and people value their agrotourism related work. At best, discussions we have had with these agrotourism enterprises have added on to the knowledge I have gained in the workshop. These allowed me the chance to know what practices and tools are being used by them and how they respond to the challenges that they face in developing their agrotourism initiatives. Through the study visits, other dimensions—sustainability and participation, have been brought to the fore of agrotourism development. All these would help me develop strategies for promoting agrotourism as part of local and national tourism attractions as well as agricultural and rural development plans and programs.
The resource persons were all very knowledgeable of the topics they have presented and discussed. They have facilitated the workshop very well although there are language barriers that could have been bridged through the course of the workshop. The methods used by the resource speakers, a mix of lecture, video presentation, and sometimes, actual demonstrations and panel presentation were all useful to me. The resource persons were also accommodating, approachable and open for collaborations, making the whole process of acquiring knowledge easy.
Overall the workshop helped me build networks for potential collaborations in the area of sustainable agrotourism development. I hope to take advantage of these networks in sharing/disseminating the knowledge I gained from the APO workshop.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS
The participants have expressed appreciation for the chance of being part of the workshop. However, there was not a chance for the participants and the resource persons and the secretariat to level off and recommend actions to the APO and APO member countries, save for the critiquing portion of the country workshop presentations.
Since the national policy of agrotourism development is still pending in the Congress, the DAP may express support for the policy and advocate the development of sustainable agrotourism through trainings and workshops, even technical assistance to local government units and local enterprises that would want to venture into agrotourism.
KIM DYAN CALDERON
Associate Project Officer
Center for Governance
Development Academy of the Philippines