Association of Agritourism South Africa (NPO)
I have had many questions since my previous article on AASA. Here are the answers to some of those questions.
The Association’s main objective is to make it as easy as possible for potential tourists (domestic and international) to access a database of rural tourism attractions and accommodation on South African farms and rural communities. With the municipal funding of town tourism centres decreasing, it is becoming more difficult for tourists to find accurate information. Information on the Internet is often inaccurate or out of date. It will be helpful for tourists to find all the information they need on Agritourism in one place – www.agritourismsouthafrica.com.
Farmers can focus on what they do best, and leave the marketing of their farm to a non-profit organisation who genuinely has their interests at heart, free of the control of another company or governmental body whose objectives may be different from the farmers’. What are we offering the farmer? An opportunity to market their farm/farming community in a coordinated and professional manner. Farmers will be able to download documents about social media, communication trends, tourism opportunities etc.
So how does it work? A farmer goes online to register. It is important to remember that AASA is not an online booking portal with fees, written contracts etc. Several of these exist to meet the needs of the tourist. However, AASA provides a direct link between farmer and tourist, so it is important for the farmer to continually update the AASA with information on events or other activities.
Farmers who want to participate in Agritourism initiatives should agree to subscribe to guiding principles, even if they are in the process of trying to implement or work towards these. For example, the development of environmental awareness amongst farm workers and visitors, sustainability, the promotion of ethical values, the use of local products rather than imported items, the encouragement to involve all farm workers/communities in tourism development opportunities etc.
As farmers, we should as a representative group, be able to show the tourism world that we are Proudly South African and that we have an Agritourism industry that can compare with or even be better than that of any other country. Let us as farmers work together to show the world why tourists should visit Agricultural areas in South Africa and not just cities. The true heart of South Africa is in the country, not the towns.
A whil ago I was in a conversation at an agritourism venue with a group of German tourists who were thrilled to have eaten breakfast at the same table as the farmer. Apart from learning about the farm, the animals and the many challenges farmers have, they were in awe of meeting a ‘real’ South African farmer. This was the first time a farmer had engaged with them in all their travels around the world.
South African farmers are a very hospitable and friendly group of people. Let us make our natural assets work and contribute to earning an income for farmers and rural communities
At AASA, we look forward to walking down this path together.