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WHAT IS RURAL TOURISM? OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT

Celebrating the world environment day, I attended the webinar “What is rural tourism? Opportunities for development” organized by AVOP, who invited two Farmer-To-Farmer volunteers (F2F), Mr. David Visher who is a seasoned Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, completing 17 assignments in 12 countries, among other accomplishments in academia and with NGOs. And Mrs. Penny Leff who is the statewide Agritourism Coordinator with the University of California Cooperative Extension.

They both addressed very important points regarding the agritourism, reflecting them in the successes, opportunities and challenges. First the Agritourism is any income generating activity conducted on a working farm or ranch for enjoyment and education of visitors, as the agritourism has different impacts on both the visitors and communities:

For visitors:

  • Connection with farmers, ranchers and the natural world.
  • Participation
  • Authentic
  • Relaxation
  • Time with family and friends

For communities:

  • Keep farms and ranches viable
  • Maintain rural ambiance
  • Economic benefit to community
  • Recreation, local identity for local residents

And the agritourism activities include:

– On-farm direct sales: (U-pick, farm stands, dairy, farm products ect…)

– Accommodation/lodging: (Farm stays, guest ranch, camping ect…)

– Entertainment/special events: (Harvest festivals, corn mazes, farm dinners, weddings ect…)

– Outdoor recreation: (Picnicking, swimming, hunting, fishing, photography, horseback riding, biking ect…)

– Educational activities: (Farm or ranch work experience, camps, classes, tours, tasting, demonstrations ect…)

Farmer-To-Farmer program could help in this sector with the following actions:

Train farmers:

  • Business planning
  • Risk management
  • Customer service skills

Build partnerships:

  • Organize farmer network
  • Identify partners

Create itinerary with partners

Improve infrastructure.

Agritourism is presenting a unique opportunity to combine aspects of the tourism and agriculture industries to provide a number of financial, educational, and social benefits to tourists, producers, and communities.  Agritourism gives producers an opportunity to generate additional income and an avenue for direct marketing to consumers.