MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday officially announced that the fourth edition of the Madrid Fusión Manila, which was previously set for April 2019, has been cancelled.

The agency is apparently shifting the focus of its resources to sectors that will require funding, particularly those engaged in farm tourism.

"Given the urgency of those demands, the department is fully dedicated to optimizing its resources and allocating its budget towards programs and projects that directly impact communities, especially at the grassroots, that need government aid to be sustainable," it said.

"Efforts such as the development of farm tourism will provide a dependable source of income for Filipinos in their locales but will also be vital to countryside development," it added.

Meanwhile, it recognized the contribution of the local food industry in promoting the Philippines as "a vibrant culture with its own unique flavor to the world."

"This was strengthened by events such as Madrid Fusión Manila, which not only helped in creating a discussion about Filipino cuisine abroad but also in cultivating a more robust interest in our homegrown agricultural produce within the local culinary scene," it said.

The DOT committed continued support to Filipino gastronomy by focusing its efforts on areas that will make it "truly sustainable."

The agency vowed that all DOT regional offices will develop and improve culinary and farm tourism product offerings, while the department’s foreign offices promote the country as a premier culinary destination to the international market.

The Madrid Fusion Manila, which started in 2015, was the only Asian edition of the Madrid Fusión, tagged as "the most important gastronomy event in the world" and is celebrated in Spain annually.

The Philippine edition was supposed to have a different format, involving more farmers in its fourth edition in 2019. (PNA)