Agritourism brings many unique values to travelers and contributes to the development of the agricultural economy of the rural areas. Understanding this type of tourism and its role to socio-economic is essential to properly develop the local agricultural potentials.
What is agritourism?
Agritourism can be understood as a type of tourism that serves travelers on the basis of agricultural production for educational or recreational purposes. Agritourists experience activities related to agriculture such as visiting farms or ranches, harvesting fruits or vegetables, learning about plants and animals, or participating in agricultural processes.
Agritourism must ensure to include four elements: combining tourism and agriculture, attracting travelers to agricultural activities, developing to increase farm income and provides recreation or education experience for travelers.
Based on the main activities that travelers experience, agritourism can be divided into three main segments:
- Direct-market Agritourism
In direct-market agritourism, agricultural products are directly sold to travelers at the farm, farm stores or local markets as many travelers are interested in the rural lifestyles and want to buy authentic farm products. Besides helping to increase the income of farmers, this direct trade is very convenient for both travelers and farm owners, and so most of the farms have this direct market activity to deliver fresh agriculture products to consumers. According to Fortune Business Insights, the direct-market segment accounts for 36.06% of the agritourism market share in 2019.
- Experience and Education Agritourism
This segment is intended to provide travelers knowledge about agriculture, the rural traditional farming, the production and the distribution processes of the agricultural products, and raise awareness of consuming healthy food and environmental conservation. Travelers of this segment can experience practical activities such as learning how to farm or raise livestock, participating in agricultural product processes or visiting farms. Experience and Education Agritourism is especially suitable for groups of children, pupils or students because of its education. For example, Hidden Villa, a farm in California, welcomes about 20,000 visitors each year to organic farms and farm animals, and 30,000 participants to their experiential education programs such as hand milking, gardening and food literacy.
- Event and Recreation Agritourism
Event and Recreation is a form of agritourism that mainly provides recreation experiences for travelers by tours or events held on the farm or locally. This segment is favored and accounts for most of the agritourism market share. The activities that travelers usually participate in are fishing, visiting apple orchards or tea gardens, tea leaf-picking, harvest festivals, etc. Flower festivals of major farms in many countries are also a form of this segment of agritourism. For example, Sunflower festival at Hokuryu (Japan) is a popular festival that attracts around 200,000 travelers each year. Travelers can also watch many cultural performances during the festival besides beautiful sunflower fields.
The role of agritourism toward socio-economy
Agritourism is considered a type of sustainable tourism development because of its benefits to the tourism industry, agriculture and rural communities. The combination of tourism and agriculture can diversify commercial activities and solve problems of market shortages in agriculture, create jobs in rural areas and increase the value of agricultural production for farmers through various commercial forms. Furthermore, agritourism also stimulates local businesses to establish and participate in the distribution of agricultural products.
Along with agricultural production, which is the primary focus, the diversification of business types will create an additional source of income for farmers. Especially, at times that are not for harvest, poor harvest or depressed prices, agritourism will be another way to improve farms’ income.
In addition, agritourism also brings socio-cultural benefits such as maintaining and promoting rural lifestyles, raising awareness of custom and preserving traditional farming practices which are local characteristics.
The potential of agritourism
According to a report published by Fortune Business Insights, the global agritourism market size was valued at 69.24 billion USD in 2019 and is projected to reach 117.37 billion USD by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.42% during the forecast period (2020-2027).
The ecotourism trend, which has received more and more attention from travelers as well as corporates in tourism in recent years, is a good sign of the development potential of agritourism. Travelers increasingly expect to have more unique experiences, participate in learning and creating in their trips, and contribute to conservation activities rather than just relaxation. Hence, forms of sustainable tourism, eco-friendly destinations and activities, in which agritourism is typical, has the potential to grow stronger in the future.
In addition, governments, especially in Asian countries, are also paying more attention to agritourism. In Thailand, for example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives together with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has worked closely in promoting agritourism activities. Also, the campaign “It’s more fun in Philippine farms” (2017) that aims to promote Philippines agritourism is another notable activity of this type of tourism in recent years.