Learning From Other Tourism Operators
What can those of us who offer Agritourism services/products learn from other Responsible Tourism Operators?
Well, actually, a lot, particularly from Wilfred Chivell, owner and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. There ‘farm’ might be in the sea, but their approach to tourism is what every Agritourism supplier should aim to emulate.
When I asked Wilfred what the secret of the success of the businesses, “Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Whale Cruises”, was he said without hesitation “Reinvesting constantly in the business” and “continually striving to create a more responsible tourism destination”.
“We consciously and actively operate responsibly with due care for the marine and terrestrial environment; conduct ethical scientific research which contributes to the conservation of the species; create conservation awareness amongst locals and visitors; contribute positively to the community and the economy in which we operate; offer fair wages and good working conditions for our employees; and contribute positively to the protection of our cultural heritage”.
Agritourism farmers can subscribe and consciously subscribe to the same philosophy – create better places for people to live in and better places to visit.
Going on holiday to Kleinbaai when I was growing up, was a totally different experience to visiting today. There was no active shark business, apart from fishermen. Now the entire village is reliant on the employment generated as a result of what in the tourism industry calls the Great White Shark Capital in the world. Over 90 people are employed by the Trust which recently won the prestigious awards, the latest of which, is the People’s Choice African Responsible Tourism Award 2016.
So what can we learn as Agritourism service providers:
- The experience that they offer is unique and the staff are very helpful and friendly.
- For each experience, there is a debriefing session at the start of the trip/tour.
- There is a volunteer programme which is highly successful.
- The website is full of information and their social media is updated on a daily basis.
- A blog is there for visitors to post their comments (negative or positive).
- A follow up email is sent to ask for personal feedback of the experience.
- Photographs and a video is taken of the visitor’s experience so they can forward their experience to family and friends.
- Items that are hand made by the communities nearby, are sold in the shop.
- They actively participate in trade shows and interact with tourism bodies.
- They have a community educational programme for school children.
- They have a strong commitment to Responsible and Sustainable tourism.
- They work together with the local tourism body and various other local businesses, for example, guest houses.
To many reading this article, a level of scepticism might be registering in the sub-conscious, because the Agritourism farms can be cash-strapped or not centrally located. It is important to remember that Wilfred started his business by taking visitors out in a rubber duck as he did not have surplus cash to invest in his business. It is through share tenacity that he and his team have achieved what they have today. Working 7 days a week, 365 days a year is not easy or glamourous.
Go online today and register on The Association of Agritourism South Africa NPO 175-957 website. It is fast and easy – www.agritourismsouthafrica.com.