The Tourism Foundation, inc. of the Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT), in partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), is holding the First National Agritourism Research Conference on June 27 – 29, 2012 at the SEARCA headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna with the theme: “Strengthening Agriculture – Tourism Linkages through Research.”
The conference will bring together the different stakeholders of agritourism including those from the agriculture sector, investors, and members of the academe to discuss current agriculture research and development in the country.
“The different stakeholders gather together in the conference and they identify research gaps by which the academe can look into for future studies. Which SEARCA naman would want to give research grants, for more options for agritoursm in the Philippines.” said Prof. Maria Criselda Badilla of AIT.
The three-day conference includes a program on the 27th and 29th where nineteen resource persons will present papers on agritourism projects in the Philippines. The conference also features two international speakers from Indonesia and Thailand who will present on agritourism development in their respective countries. On the 28th there will be a tour of the Costales Nature Farm in Majayjay, Laguna to serve as an example.
According to the SEARCA website: “The conference will emphasize agritourism as an important tool to diversify farming and boost rural economies as well. Consolidating research outputs and initiatives related to agriculture and tourism will have a stronger impact on the reduction of poverty and the protection of natural resources.”
AIT, as co-presenter, has been actively organizing the event since January with AIT Dean, Miguela Mena as committee chair and Prof. Paolo Fresnoza and Maria Criselda Badilla as part of the organizing team.
“We helped in getting the Philippine sponsors [and] getting the academe involved. Not just the academe in UP but in all the tourism schools. So we sent invitations out to all the tourism schools, in all our networks, and all our alumni to participate and attend.” Said Prof. Badilla
Student volunteers and student assistants were also employed to help organize and provide manpower for the event.
“That’s also basically why SEARCA wanted us, because we had manpower…the students become documenters and ushers. It’s a good training ground.” Said Prof. Badilla
Around 120 members of the academe, researchers, and representatives of the agritourism sector have already signified their interest to participate. Rooms in the SEARCA guest house have also been fully booked.
Although it is only the first agritourism conference, organizers hope to make it an annual event and aim for an international conference next year.
“If things go right, I hope there’s a second!” expressed Prof. Badilla. – Nadine Gutierrez
SEARCA Website: http://beta.searca.org/searca/