Can Agritourism be a lifeline

06 December 2018  Read: 112

 

With challenges such as water shortages, increase in fuel prices, marketing challenges, cost-price squeeze and political unrest surrounding agriculture in South Africa, the business environment is ever-evolving which makes survival extremely challenging.  This forces farmers to become more entrepreneurial and think outside the proverbial box to look for more innovative ways to earn an extra income, without impacting on their existing agricultural business model. The advantages of diversifying your existing business model will result in improved cash-flow, assist with risk management, create exposure for your agricultural business, all whilst increasing income, far outweighs the disadvantages.

Many are turning to coin in from the tourism sector by incorporating tourism into their business plans to run alongside established farming business models. Many farmers are finding that they have unutilised buildings on their premises which can easily be transformed into authentic accommodation to let others enjoy a true South African farming experience.  This, teamed with honest South African hospitality and cuisine (think about evenings with potjiekos, braaivleis and pap spent around a fire) can easily be incorporated by many farmers at a fairly low cost and little disruption to their normal farming programmes.  Not only does this create an extra income, but it diversifies their business by welcoming people around the world to experience various farming practises in various farming sectors. With the main source of income still being the cultivation and sale of produce, teaming your agricultural business with tourism is a great way to tap into the many millions of Rands that the tourism industry brings to our national table.

Global travellers are moving away from the mainstream tourism, and are looking for personal and authentic experiences.  Many have not experienced agriculture at all, let alone some of the unique farming practises South African farmers have to offer. South African farms lend themselves as being ideal for just such experiences, set in beautiful  and diverse countrysides.

Not only do South African farmers have the advantage of diverse landscapes to offer, but the diversity within the agricultural sector is also a huge advantage.  We boast farming from general foodstuffs such as maize, potatoes and tomatoes to a wide variety of livestock and game and more niche production farms such as oysters, fish and abalone.

Farmers often think that they cannot manage to venture into Agritourism due to lack of available capital and resources, However, you do not need to create a five-star experience, as tourism have shifted from luxury experiences to more ‘different’ experiences outside the normal urban environment.  Tourists are also moving towards purchasing locally produced articles and goods rather than the usual massproduced paraphernalia.  On top of this the global trend has moved to purchasing eco-friendly foods that has been produced according to good, ethical agricultural practises, and they want to experience this first hand.  Thus the need to visit farms is on the increase.  Therefore, capitalising on Agritourism opportunities can become a lifeline for those in the agri sector strugg-ling to keep their farming enterprises profitable.   

The key to implementing Agritourism to your existing farming enterprise is to start small.  This will ensure a profitable enterprise without disrupting your current agricultural management structure.  Make use of social media to advertise.  Assistance and training is also available through a number of existing NGO’s and the South African Tourism Association (SATSA) and the Association for Agritou-rism in South Africa (AASA).

 
 
 
 

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