Agritourism

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Anytime a farming operation opens its doors to the public and invites visitors to come and enjoy their products and services that is agritourism. There are various terms that refer to Agritourism in different parts of the world; the most common term is “farm stays”.

Agritourism includes a wide variety of activities, including buying products that are directly produced from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, picking and collecting fruits, feeding animals, or simply staying over at a B&B on a farm. Farms and ranches invite the public onto their property to experience the out-of-door, the leisure pace, and the healthy and nutritious produce that is only possible when it is fresh picked at the peak of perfection. Some farm owners have become involved in agritourism as a way of supplementing their income, while others desire an opportunity to educate the public and introduce people to farming.

Today, agritourism is considered one of the fastest growing segments of travel industry because it offers a huge variety of entertainment, education, relaxation, outdoor adventures, shopping and dining experiences. Farm stay businesses market their activities by highlighting how people can have a new experience on the farm land while escaping from the stress of traffic jams, office cubicles and carpooling.

For many people who visit farms, especially children, the visit marks the first time they see the source of their food, be it a dairy cow, an ear of corn growing in a field, or an apple they can pick right off a tree. Parents will accompany their children while they learn how food is grown, and maybe milk a cow with their own hands. For people who are interested in knowing how their food is produced, they want to meet farmers and processors and talk with them about what goes into food production.

A segment of rural tourism is referred to as nature-based tourism, ecotourism, or sometimes recreation-based tourism. Nature-based tourism attracts people interested in visiting natural areas for the purpose of enjoying the scenery, including plant and animal wildlife. Examples of nature-based tourism include hunting, fishing, photography, bird watching and visiting parks.

Equine tourism activities may also be a part of agritourism; this includes using horses for horseback riding lessons, trail-riding opportunities, boarding facilities and reproduction services and may provide profitable value-added businesses. One other possibility that can be considered is hosting weddings in a farm as a part of agritourism.

As a form of niche tourism, agritourism is counted as a well-established industry in many parts of the world. Pioneers of this industry are Australia, Canada, China, the Philippines, and the USA.

In China, an imperial study in a rural village in the district of Yunnan examined the impacts of agritourism on an ethnic community and discussed the challenges faced by residents who are attempting to improve their livelihoods through tourism. This qualitative study of selected households indicated positive experiences both economically and socioculturally based on the study elements feedbacks recorded. Agritourism has not only provided a supplementary income and new employment opportunities to the rural community, but has also increased the conservation of the environment and appreciation of minority cultures and rural lifestyle.

Yet, the development of agritourism is facing a number of challenges. Systemized rules or laws need to be formulated to support farming families establishing and operating tourism enterprises. For every agritourism business success story, there is a counter-story of a farmer or a rancher who got out of the agritourism because it was not profitable and he was continuously losing money.

Most surveys of farmers or ranchers find that the business is full of challenges and hardships. Property tax problems, high insurance and liability costs, and the limits of seasonality and weather are few among many problems agritourism operators regularly face.

Marketing for the business in a market that is not quite familiar to this kind of tourism, as in the Egyptian tourism market, is also a challenge. In sum, agritourism has great potential for farmers and ranchers seeking to generate additional revenue, capitalize on underused assets, and educate the public. However, it is not a magic bullet and not all agritourism ventures will succeed.

References

http://www.agmrc.org/
http://www.tandfonline.com
http://www.eckertagrimarketing.com/

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