Farm tourism first to take off post-pandemic

AS PEOPLE become more conscious about their health and wellness under this pandemic-induced environment, the Department of Tourism (DOT) sees farm tourism as the first tourism niche-product to take off.

Josie Costales, president of Philippine Farm Tourism Development Association, expects more local tourists will embrace farm tourism as they seek immunity-boosting escapes during this economic and health crisis.

“People will now be more considerate of food choices and sources,” said Costales, chairperson of Costales Nature Farms, a premier agri-tourism destination in the Philippines.

She said farm tourism will become more appealing to a bigger market post-pandemic as interest of people to re-connect with nature, after going through depressing lockdowns, will heighten. She believes that farm tourism is the key to addressing the changed travel and tourism landscape.

“During the lockdowns people turned to urban gardening. They learned how to plant,” she said in a webinar.

Farm tourism is the practice of attracting visitors and tourists to farm areas for production, educational and recreational purposes which involves any agriculture or fishery-based operation or activity and may also provide a venue for outdoor recreation and accessible family outings.

Under the new normal, farm tourism sites have imposed stricter guidelines, which include the wearing of face masks, observing social distancing and limiting the number of guests to visit the farm. Costales Farm in particular ventured into digital processes, such as online booking and cashless transactions.

“Farm tourism is experiential. But we are observing the health and safety standards mandated by the government,” she said.

Tourism Undersecretary Roberto Alabado III of the tourism development planning clarified that it isn’t only farm tourism that the DOT will push under the new normal, as they will also promote dive, eco-tourism, medical, sun and beach, medical and culture tourism products.

But he said opportunities are going to be a hit for farm tourism as people want to re-experience nature because of the prolonged lockdown.

He also sees wellness and the sun and beach tourism taking off fast since people want to relax and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Farm in combination with these three products will allow tourists to experience and interact with nature... These are low hanging fruits that we should be able to switch to as people look for space, healthy eating and a destination to feel more relaxed and healthy post-pandemic,” said Alabado. (KOC)