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Harvest SA – Rural Tourism Africa Your Partner In Creating Unique Agritourism Experiences

Harvest SA – Rural Tourism Africa Your Partner In Creating Unique Agritourism Experiences

Agritourism broadly incorporates unique tourist activities on a working farm that are linked to the farm’s activities and attractions. These activities can include harvesting crops, using agricultural implements, and tasting and buying farm produce. Two other aspects are also of note, namely using farm resources for recreational entertainment (visitor attractions) such as game viewing, birding, biking, hiking, and fishing; and stay-over such as boarding and lodging on the farm or close to the farm. Day visits on working farms, such as wine warms, are also included as a form of agritourism. It is globally acknowledged that economic and social aims are the two most common motives for farmers to be involved in agritourism ventures. Farmers that are involved in agritourism businesses face a number of challenges, namely a lack of knowledge on how to adopt agritourism opportunities on how to align farm activities to tourist expectations and needs. It is difficult for individual farms to make tourists aware of available agritourism experiences, and farmers just don’t have the time to gain expertise and training in how to create unique agritourist experiences that create agritourist excitement. A large number of international studies have pinpointed that entrepreneurship – offer something different to attract tourists – and diversification – provide additional and sustainable farm income throughout the year and most especially during off-seasons – are important on-farm economic benefits of agritourism. Other motives include creating additional job opportunities for local communities and economic benefits to the local area, and preservation of natural and cultural elements by drawing urban tourists to rural areas. Agritourism can play an important role in heritage preservation, namely rebranding agricultural identity away from political ideologies to aspects such as food security and the important role that agriculture plays in rural economic and social welfare. Unfortunately the South African agritourism supply side is not yet well-established. There is limited infrastructure, service providers and organisational expertise to develop a vibrant agritourism industry. Tourists are quite unaware of the unique experiences that are part of visiting a working farm and local authorities have not yet grasped the income generating potential of agritourism. I would suggest that every town council or regional municipality create an information centre for agritourism. Local businesses must be established to provide transport, develop visitor attractions on farms, and provide accommodation. Intermediaries and coordinators should be identified that can create a local or regional agritourism network and agritourism routes. The guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts in a small town can provide accommodation, a local guide can transport tourists to surrounding farms for day-visits, and tour agents can take bookings for farm visits or stay-overs.

Rural Tourism Africa will gladly assist in providing advice on any aspect of agritourism. It is the only non-governmental link between interested tourists and all other role players in agritourism. It serves as an information hub highlighting tourism experiences on farms across Africa, allowing local and international tourists to incorporate visits to these farms as part of their travel plans. Rural Tourism Africa was established to promote sustainable rural development in South Africa and Africa by creating a conducive environment in which farmers and rural communities can coordinate and implement agritourism campaigns. Its main objectives are:

• Empowering farmers and rural communities to collaborate to promote agritourism and
agritourism routes.
• Cultivating a sustainable agritourism environment through liaison and cooperation with key stakeholders within the business environment, tourism bodies,
and government.
• Promoting agritourism to national and international tourists with the aim of benefiting the rural economy.
• Creating relevant and accessible agritourism intelligence to support a viable network of agritourism participants
• Rural Tourism Africa provides advice and guidance to its members, assists members with marketing and promotions, and represents agritourism at governmental, tourism and organised agricultural institutions.
• This is the only Agritourism Association in Africa, building a strong and recognizable brand that stands for integrity.

Contact Wadzi at wadzi@agritourismafrica.com for more information or visit https://www.agritourAismafrica.com/)

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