Bohol will welcome 300 participants who are expected to attend the 7th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference on Feb. 26-28 in Panglao to discuss business prospects in farm tourism.

Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado will be among officials who will lead the opening of the conference tomorrow.

Dr. Mina Gabor, chairman and president of the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), said in a press conference yesterday that aside from investment opportunities in farm tourism, Bohol’s own potential as an investment area will be a high point of the conference.

Gabor added that Bohol has been the top choice as a destination for the international event since before the pandemic.

With the province’s designation as the first and only UNESCO Global Geopark, it became more fitting for the province to host the 7th edition after the hiatus due to the global health crisis, she added.

Themed “Farm Tourism: Consciousness for Healthy Living and New Experiences,” this year’s edition will focus on sustainable growth through the cultivation of fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture and artisanal fisheries, and green investments.

“Ït is also a venue to showcase what Bohol has to offer in farm tourism,” said Joanne Pinat, Bohol Provincial Tourism Office officer in charge.

As early as 2014, the provincial government launched farm tourism as an industry sector. A technical working group was formed specific for farm tourism, with capacity development for tourism workers and farmers conducted thereafter.

A highlight of the conference is the conferment of the 4th Lakbay Bukid Awards to five local and foreign individuals and organizations who contributed to Asian farm tourism development.

Bohol’s own Tan Inong Asin Tibuok Kabilin sa Albur is a recipient of the award for its initiative of keeping the pre-colonial tradition alive.

The artisanal salt is now recognized as one of the rarest and most expensive finishing salts in modern cuisines, the award giving body cited in its program.

It is sold in the United States and was included in the prestigious Slow Food Ark of Taste, a global catalogue of endangered heritage cuisine by Slow Food International.

Organized by the ISST, the conference opened a One Town, One Product exhibit led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) before the session proper.

Specific topics of the conference include the hospitality industry embracing sustainable farm-to-table concept, processing fruits and vegetables – key to food security, right marketing and revenue, value-added benefits of artisanal fisheries, revival of the country’s multi–million seaweeds industry, the pompano fish as aquaculture’s upcoming star, and green investment in agriculture and tourism.

The event is backed by the Philippine Exporters Confederation and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture and supported by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, DTI, and Philippine Airlines which is the official carrier.

Participants will visit Loboc Cacao Farm, Tan Inong Manufacturing in Alburquerque, Kinaiyahan Forest Park in Bilar, Lasang Cacao Farm in Maribojoc, Green Thumb Farm in Corella, South Farm in Panglao, Bohol Bee Farm in Dauis, Manay’s Farm in San Miguel, Ubay Dairy Farm, and the Jagna Recycling Facility and Eco Farm. (PIMO/LMS)