EDITORIAL - Farms and tourist sites
(The Freeman) - November 9, 2019 - 12:00am

Senator Cynthia Villar might want to rethink her call to all the farmers to convert their farms into tourism sites.

During the 6th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference at the Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu City the other day, Villar, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture and food committee, urged farmers to convert their farms into tourism sites and farm training schools to augment their income.

Farm schools maybe, but tourist sites?

With all due respect to our farmers, what do they know about running a tourist site? A farm is a farm, and a tourist attraction is a tourist attraction. They should be kept separate.

Yes, we admit that every once in a while a good combination of both does come out. A good example of this is the Sirao Garden and other such flower farms in the upland areas of Cebu City.

However, many conditions have to be fulfilled for something like that to happen. The farm has to grow something that people like to buy as souvenirs or take photographs with. The location has to be easily accessible from a major city. It has to be able to cope with an influx of tourists. It must also not be eclipsed by other, nearer attractions.

The thing is that not all farms have the conditions to be turned into a tourist attraction.

Even attractions like the Sirao Garden are seasonal. They cannot really entertain visitors all year round because the flowers have their blooming season.

Another thing, if you have tourist attractions mushrooming all over the place, this will create another problem by itself. Remember what happened in Boracay? That world-class resort island had trouble keeping up with the droves of tourists that descend upon them every year.

Imagine how a farm in an upland barangay would be able, or not be able, to deal with armies of city dwellers or foreigners suddenly let loose on the countryside.

Lastly, what happens to the food situation when all farms have been turned into tourist attractions? Can we eat the money that tourists pay for admission to these places?

Farm training schools are a good idea. By all means, we should encourage the next generation of farmers to keep feeding the nation. But tourist attractions? Not all farm owners can be as lucky as others.

CYNTHIA VILLAR
Philstar
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