AGRITOURISM – FACTORS TO CONSIDER BY FARMERS BEFORE EMBARKING ON THE JOURNEY
Where should a farmer start?
- A farmer can only participate in Agritourism if he/she has a working farm.
- A successful Agritourism farmer must be willing to share information about the farm and spend the time with visitors, if they require interaction with the farmer or farmers’ family. The visitor must be made to feel welcome. If the farmer is too busy farming, then the farmers’ family must be willing to host.
- The same personality traits that make a good host at any tourist destination should be considered: Do you enjoy entertaining guests if they request information? Will you enjoy having people visit your farm? Can you create a warm, safe, and inviting atmosphere for people visiting your farm? Can you manage the additional business responsibilities associated with running an Agritourism business?
- Consider doing research into what competitors in your area offer to visitors and how farmers can work together to create a destination.
What does your farm have to offer a visitor?
- Farm tours
- Mountain Biking
- Harvest Festivals
- Animal varieties e.g. indigenous goats
- Farm accommodation (tents; caravans; camper vans; B&B; self- catering units)
- Farm food/meals (picnics)
- Game farms
- Assistance in farming by interested parties e.g. Gap year students
- Cultural/historical buildings
- Farm produce to purchase e.g. olives
- Educational courses e.g. bread baking; cheese making; milking cows; bee-keeping
- Educational tours for interested farmers from other counties
- Relaxation & peace
What resources do you have to manage visitors to your farm?
- Family who have the time/resources to want to welcome visitors?
- Farm workers who want to earn additional income e.g. bread baking or story telling?
Why are you considering Agritourism?
- To earn additional income as production costs increase
- To diversify risk (e.g. climate change)
- To educate the consumer/visitor about farming and farming practices so as to bridge the gap
- To keep farm workers employed throughout the year as opposed to seasonal employment
What is Agritourism South Africa?
It is a catalyst for the creation of an information hub of all farmers who offer Agritourism products and services in South Africa and Africa under one strong umbrella brand.
Guiding principles of AA include:
- Assisting in bridging the gap between consumers/visitors and farmers/farming communities
- Improving the relationship between both parties
- Promoting entrepreneurship amongst farming communities
- Making locally made products available for tourists to buy
- Assisting in the development of sustainable farming practices that help improve the quality of life of all those who live on a farm.
- We provide marketing, media and communication support on request
- We provide reliable access to information
- We provide a website listing
- We have an Agritourism stand at exhibitions and shows
- We champion the development of the Agritourism sector in South Africa
Who are Agritourists?
- Individuals who seek out and enjoy authentic personal experiences that they can discuss with others
- Individuals who want to involve themselves in holiday activities, are social by nature and who like to engage with local people and meet farmers
- Individuals who are active and adventurous in their pursuits and enjoy a wide variety of experiences – “self-challengers”
- Individuals who place a high value on contrasting experiences that are different from their daily lives in cities
- Young couples who want a romantic weekend holiday
- Self-drive visitors who want to explore the countryside
- Gap year agricultural students who want a farming experience in Africa
- Individuals who want peace and to ‘get away from it all’
- Farmers from other countries who wish to observe South African farmers who are often seen as leaders in their field
Factors to consider when embarking on the Agritourism journey:
- Indemnity/liability documents and signage
- Introduction of safety measures
- Booking system
- Zoning if building accommodation
- Start small
- Fire regulations
- Cleanliness and consistency are important to visitors
- Maintain a loyal database of visitors
Agritourism South Africa is developing a system where visitors can write a review of their farm experience and farmers can provide feedback on their visitors. The sole objective of this initiative is to improve the experience and communication flow between farmers and their visitors.
We love farmers and farming and are passionate about what we do.