Young Tourists – A Prime Market For Agritourism
We decided to do some research on Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) as to what South Africans thought of Agritourism. The questions were varied as some people asked what Agritourism is; some Agritourism farmers sent through their information to us to be included as a free listing on the www.agritourismsouthafrica.com website and some people were looking for employment in the Agritourism industry. Over the two days that this survey was conducted, 416 readers responded. Of this figure, 213 were women and 203 were men. In terms of age, 372 were between the ages of 18 – 24; 31 were between the ages of 25 – 34 and 2 were over the age of 35. 411 post engagements were made on a cell phone and only 5 from Desktops. In total, there were 473 likes for the Face Book page.
So why is this relevant? What it shows to farmers, is that the youth support Agritourism. The youth are looking for different experiences in an environment that is not urban. Often farmers think they do not have the capacity (money, property, staff or activities) to open their farms to visitors, but you do not need five-star accommodation or complex activities to attract the youth.
So for those farmers who do not have money to invest in Agritourism, my suggestion would be to start small by targeting the youth. This is very easy to do with Social Media at no cost.
Often opportunities to maximise wonderful and scenic services/products are lost because the local community is not involved. A suggestion would be for a few farmers to work together with the assistance of a community leader or social worker to open an outlet/rent space in the nearest town for the farm communities so they can sell fresh produce/art/craft etc. There are many NGO’s that can come and teach rural communities about the opportunities that exist in tourism or do the training involved. Online tourism training is also available through SATSA.
Two areas where Agritourism is involved, spring to mind. Elim, with a newly tarred road should be included on the shark tours. Kleinbaai is a hive of never ending activity with tourists around the world coming to look at sharks. Why not extend the experience by showing tourists the rural landscape and beautiful buildings of Elim? Currently tourists stop, get out of their cars and take photographs, get back in their cars and leave. So much more could be done and far more money could go into supporting the community. Even an Elim “curio” shop could be opened with the community involved.
This is what the Association of Agritourism does. We go into farming communities, identify marketable services/products and then ‘package’ these so the visitor can easily access unique experiences.
The other area where there is huge opportunity to develop (identify, package, market) farm community involvement, is the West Coast, particularly during the flower season. We understand that it is difficult for local communities to be objective and identify possible visitor experiences. Funding is also required in many cases. The good news is that funding is available through government departments like the Department of Agriculture. We work with associations like Eco Atlas, Open Africa and other NPO’s. Click through on our website to see what they do. The point I am making is that there are people to help get your Agritourism product off the ground.
It is important to emphasize that the Association allows farmers to advertise their farm products/services on our website www.agritourismsouthafrica.com for free. We are there to encourage farmers to interact with visitors, particularly as the perception in the past of farmers has not been a positive one.
So when the Association of Agritourism South Africa is involved in projects we look at the whole package of an area from a marketing perspective that will appeal to tourists or visitors.
“Widespread unemployment and poverty, crime and a high prevalence of HIV/Aids are everyday realities in South Africa. Many of these issues play out at farm level. Addressing them and meeting the needs of people are essential to securing a sustainable farming future.” WWF SA
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Written by Jacqui Taylor.