AGRITOURISM BRANCHES OUT

James Morris - Jan 24, 2011
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Flexibility of choices is one of the modern-day luxuries available for any holiday planning. Travelers who long for a bit of rural diversity combined with unique culinary experiences and outdoor leisure activities need not look further. Agritourism is what they need.

 

An ideal holiday means one can get exactly what one wants. For some, the dream is lying on a beach next to a 5* hotel, many long for a fun city break or a trip around galleries and museums. Adventurers praise high mountain peaks, wild rivers or deep valleys. There is also a compromise between a comfortable city holiday and a challenging, action-packed trip. Agritourism is the answer. It involves ecotourism, rural and ethnic tourism, culinary experiences, country recreation or even geo-tourism. The choices vary from country to country, but the sector is growing rapidly.

The great advantage is its diversity. It may mean spending a holiday in a village house on a lake, a lovely villa overlooking a winery, or even a farm where visitors work to stay. In fact, an initiative called ‘Volunteers on the Farms’ has been running similar programs across the world for some time now, and is currently supported by 33 countries. Travelers not only see but experience what life on a farm is truly about.

Most agritourists are looking for an escape from the city and long for a new cultural experience. Visiting a striking natural setting and staying in a cozy cottage is a welcome option for many. Often, there are many opportunities for leisure activities. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling are welcome choices.

European countries have been building up a network of establishments which focus on agritourism. Italy has a very long tradition and especially Tuscany has gained a glamorous agritourist status. Thousands of picturesque villages scattered around the seaside sound lush; visitors come to see the popular pasta farms, olive groves, and wine plantations.

Czech Republic attracts beer lovers who explore the Pilsen region and its brewing traditions; however horse farms or even goat farms are slowly appearing; making goats cheese is not on a daily tourist menu, after all. Bulgaria counts as one of the more frequented destinations. There are 100 agritourist farms there, as well as rural coaching inns, family hotels and cottages. The country’s varied landscape is inspiring and all seasons have something special to offer.

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Comments

  1. Rural and Agro-Tourism respond perfectly to the market trends: individual and authentic experiences, contact with "real" people, local culture, and nature. All this, at a usually excellent price-quality relation. The professional provider organisations of this product in Europe are organised through EuroGites.

    Klaus Ehrlich (Spain)
  2. Thanks for the report -- hopeful. It would be great to read follow-up stories on specific projects. Also, how public and private entities are supporting agrotourism.

    Indeed, there may be a trend, although some tourism decision makers put the cart before the horse -- without clarifying how they plan to collaborate with/support the providers of their new marketing schemes -- the farmers and chefs and their communities that are the only people that can present agritourism to visitors.

    Are these "new" tourism providers able to make a real living by participating in this "trend" or are they viewed as expendable worker bees to standard tourism operators? Also, what are the conservation-protection plans in place for the rural communities that end up on new "off the beaten" path lists.

    There's a tremendous risk in opening up rural communities to tourism without long-term plans in place first to protect those regions from quickly becoming part of mass tourism sprawl. Awareness of those risks is key. Agritourism can, indeed, support local communities if it is run by and for those communities.

    Nikki Rose (Greece)
  3. Thanks for the article. It was very interesting. It is very true that agritourism is different in different country. I have been involved in agritourism and agricultural volunteering in a small village in the Himalayas of Nepal.
    We have found that the agriculture here is deteriorating following the shortage of labor, traditional farming and dependency in rain. The agricultural volunteering and agritourism however seems to make things better. Youths are attracted to come and look for opportunities in the village itself. The agritourism here is combined with a short trek to the foothills of the Himalayas, homestay, village tour and festivals.

    Fulkharka Tourism (Nepal)

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