Press Release
May 26, 2015

Villar files bill to give tax incentives for farm tourism

To promote farm tourism in the country, Sen. Cynthia Villar filed a bill that will give tax incentives and exemptions to farm tourism professionals and operators.

"As a tropical country with an abundance of natural resources, biological diversity and a strong cultural heritage, the Philippines is well-positioned for agri-tourism. All we need is an enabling environment, including a clear legislation and a proper taxation system that are crucial for the development of agri-tourism in the country," Villar said.

Senate Bill 2766 or the Farm Tourism Act of 2015 authored by Villar seeks to establish a comprehensive program for the development and promotion of farm tourism.

Under the bill, duly accredited farm tourism professionals and operators are entitled to incentives and tax exemptions pursuant to existing laws such as Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010; of RA 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997, as amended by Republic Act 9281; Republic Act 9178 or the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE's) Act of 2002; and Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, among others.

Villar noted that presently, the Philippines has a total of 32 agri-tourism sites, including 27 protected areas consisting of strawberry and organic vegetable farms in Benguet, as well as pineapple and coffee plantations in Bukidnon. The Philippines also hosts various events, including farmers' field days and agricultural fairs, which are estimated to be attended by 64,000 tourists each year.

"A sustainable tourism is an opportunity for business development and job creation, as well as for stimulation of investment and support for local services, even in far-flung areas. Tourism can help promote conservation by raising awareness among visitors through well-designed programs both at the local and national levels," she added.

The bill mandates the Department of Tourism(DOT) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or TIEZA, farm tourism practitioners and organizations, local government units (LGUs), and the private sector, to formulate a six-year farm tourism strategic development plan.

The development plan will serve as a guide in the formulation and implementation of programs and projects for the development and promotion of farm tourism.

The bill also seeks the creation of the Philippine Farm Tourism Industry Development Coordinating Council (PFTIDCC), which is administratively attached to the DOT. Among others, the Council will encourage the establishment of at least one tourism farm in every province and will provide for the registration, accreditation and issuance of identification cards to farm tourism professionals and operators.

The Council will also establish and maintain a comprehensive farm tourism information system and formulate and implement farm tourism research and development projects, such as, but not limited to , organic farming, aqua culture, duckweed culture, livestock and poultry raising, aimed at increasing, resource productivity, improving resource efficiency, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the country's farm tourism program.

PFTIDCC will have the DOT Secretary as chairman and the DA Secretary as vice chairman. As members will be a representative from a State College or University as recommended by the Commission of Higher Education; a representative from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; a representative from the League of Provinces of the Philippines; and two representatives from farm tourism associations/organizations recognized by the DA or DOT.

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