Agritourism has been recently embraced by South African Farmers as a means of not only diversifying risk and earning additional income, but also to create a platform whereby farmers and fellow South Africans can communicate. Surprisingly many South Africans living in urban environments believe that it is easy to farm, in fact, they believe anyone can do it. Well, not quite…
Since 2000 some of the most extensively researched topics within tourism studies have been tourism and local economic development (Hall, Campos, 2014). Although the economic benefits of Agritourism development has been identified as a topic in need of greater research attention (Jeczmyk, 2014), Agritourism is viewed as a catalyst for revitalizing troubled rural agrarian economies and local employment creation for small town revival.
Agritourism plays a vital role in educating adults and children. The Association of Agritourism seeks to promote authentic farm tourism experiences with education as one of its pillars.
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 Information on the Internet is often inaccurate or out of date.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.
I would recommend that this business is treated as a separate SBU, to be able to access in the long term the investment, cost and income generated.
In most cases, an admission fee would be charged to allow access to an event, festival, tasting or interacting with animals. An admission fee depends though on the product offering.
With consumer interest growing rapidly in how their food is grown, farmers need to engage in communication and discussion on many fronts with customers and interest groups, many of whom could be potential tourists. Often this is difficult as farmers have time constraints, and it is important that spouses and farm workers are involved in the Agritourism initiative on the farm.
Agritourism is a niche/specialized tourism sector that appeals to visitors who are looking for an authentic farm tourism experience that is also educational. The scope of activities is wide; from farm accommodation to harvest festivals to direct sales from farms, for example, a 'pick-your-own' farm experience.
In most cases Agritourism provides an additional source of income for farms that allows them to keep farming while offering tourism type activities particularly during the post harvest period. Agritourism also provides a direct marketing and communication approach that can be very effective in building brands or introducing new products. The growth of wine routes and the world class wine tourism destinations is an example of how successful Agritourism can be to farmers.