Sen. Cynthia Villar today presented the committee report on the bill that will provide the enabling environment, including a clear legislation and a proper tax and incentives system for farm tourism in the country.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, sponsored Senate Bill No. 3002 under Committee Report No. 289, or “An Act providing for the development and promotion of farm tourism in the Philippines and for other purposes.”
“The Philippines as an agricultural country is blessed with abundant natural resources, biological diversity and cultural heritage. We have what it takes to take a strong lead in farm tourism in the region, and even globally,” Villar said.
Among the salient features of the bill is the formulation of a Farm Tourism Strategic Action Plan consistent with the National Tourism Development Plan. This will provide the specific programs and activities that need to be done by government agencies and industry stakeholders.
Under the bill, the Farm Tourism Development Board composed of private sector/industry stakeholders will also be created.
The incentives and tax exemptions identified in the original bills were removed since incentives are already mandated under different laws.
“Farm tourism will be a major contributor in bringing back the glory days of agriculture in our country given the potential to increase the income of people involved in agriculture as well as to help solve the problem of urban migration,” Villar said.
Together with the Agriculture Committee, the bill is submitted jointly by the Committee on Tourism and Ways and Means. The report is in substitution of Senate Bills 802, 2184, 2234, 2673, and 2766 with Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Lito Lapid, JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara, and Villar as authors.
The substitute bill addresses the concerns raised by the private sector on priority infrastructure support or agritourism farms, accessible financing facilities and free training on the service industry including tour guiding across the regions.
Villar also noted that long before the farm tourism label, small, family-owned, and community-based farms are already thriving in many parts of the country.
“With this legislation, local farm tourism practitioners and operators will be able to level up their operations or activities to attract more visitors and travelers to farm areas for production, educational and recreational purposes,” she said.
Villar said in June, she led a study tour of the best agri or farm tourism sites in Taiwan with some governors and learned that “farm tourism in the country can grow in leaps and bounds if we adopted more innovative concepts and technologies.”