CADLAN PILI CAMARINES SUR. – The Department of Agriculture Bicol participated in the first-ever Bicol Tourism Expo held at the Capitol Convention Center, this municipality on June 16-17, 2022.

With the theme: “Exploring New Frontiers and Extraordinary Experiences”, the activity aimed to promote tourism which also included Agri Tourism thru innovation and continued collaboration with valued partners.

Sponsored by the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and the Provincial Local Government Unit of Camarines Sur, the said activity was attended by over 1,000 participants, mostly members of the academe, students, farmers , fisher-folks and other stakeholders. Top officials and guests of said sponsors also showed their support during the opening program.

In her keynote speech, Atty. Maria Anthonette Velasco, COO, Tourism Promotions Board , challenged everyone to be open and do better since the tourism industry is one of the most affected Industries during the pandemic. In order to recover, she presented strategies like, strengthening digital platforms and Program Partnership as pathways. “We have to change our mind-set, and accept the experiences during those difficult times as gifts of the pandemic” she added. In her inspirational message, Elsa Parot, Regional Director, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), lauded the emergence of Agri Tourism sites despite the many challenges. She said that the emergence of the Agri tourism farms are new breakthroughs that capture the fruits of farming. She encouraged those who have farm lots to involve in farm diversification and convert to Agri- tourism sites.

Meanwhile, Rodel P. Tornilla, DA-5 Regional Executive Director in his virtual message, stressed that combining tourism with agriculture promotes environmentally friendly, efficient, and sustainable farm practices, provides alternative recreation facilities and farm tourism activities for families, students, and other clients, and promotes health and wellness with high quality farm-produced food. He enjoined everyone to visit agri-tourism spots in Bicol and enjoy the farm- to- plate or farm- to- table experience without going to a store or market.

Exhibits showcased local tourism destinations and promotions from airline companies promising discounts on tour packages. Talks and lectures were also sponsored by the Department of Agriculture on the first day and the Department of Tourism on the second day.

For its part, the DA Bicol, thru the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section (RAFIS) showcased GAP certified farms and Agri-tourism sites. Likewise, distributed over 4,500 copies of IEC materials and 900 sets of assorted vegetable seeds while the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) , raffled off garden tools to the participants. (B. Nunez; photos; S. Abogado)