From the traditional model of agricultural production, Taiwan has had a successful transformation to an agricultural model in which agriculture is combined with experiences and entertainment and becomes a unique agritourism destination that attracts lots of travelers every year.
Taiwan is a typical destination for agritourism
As of the end of July 2017, Taiwan had 82 planned agritourism areas. The model of leisure farms is the most popular with around 400 registered farms that provide opportunities for travelers to learn about agriculture through experiential activities.
In addition, a website specializing in providing information on agritourism in Taiwan with content in English and Japanese was also launched to expand the reachability to potential target customers.
In Taiwan, agritourism areas are classified by sizes and types for proper supervision and support from the government to encourage farmers to develop agritourism based on local advantages. Regulations promulgated by the government to support businesses with the goal of increasing income for locals, creating more employments and allowing travelers to experience the agricultural lifestyle.
Some typical agritourism experiences in Taiwan
In farms specializing in planting, travelers can participate in many experiential activities such as visiting the farm, harvesting and processing agricultural products by themselves. The popular planting farms in Taiwan are mostly tea hills, coffee farms, fruit or herbs gardens, organic vegetable farms, flower gardens, etc. For example, coffee farms often offer customers the activities of harvesting and roasting coffee beans, visiting coffee processing areas, etc. Taiwan also has herb gardens that give travelers unique experiences such as dyeing from plants, making essential oils, soaps, handmade lip balms and many other personal care products from herbs.
Tea is one of the most famous agricultural products in Taiwan. Therefore, tea farms here also implementing agritourism to contribute to promoting their local products. In addition to activities such as visiting tea farms and picking tea leaves, travelers can also have opportunities to making tea jelly or green tea cake, wrapping tea bags, making soap or cleaning liquid with tea scent.
In addition to farms specializing in planting, ranches and leisure fishing villages are also popular destinations for agritourists in Taiwan. Ranches offer experiential activities such as feeding the cattle, milking cows and making salted duck eggs or century eggs. In fishing villages, travelers can try catching fishes, shrimps and clams or cooking local dishes from seafood.
The seasonal agricultural products in Taiwan embrace the uniqueness and distinctiveness of this island in each season. Also, seasonal farming like what Taiwanese farmers are doing helps to maintain agritourism for the farms in the island throughout the year. For example, the first months of the year are suitable for watching cherry blossom and picking persimmons; summer is lotus planting season; from April to August, travelers can harvest grape, tomato or watch lily flowers; and the last months of the year is harvest season for pitahaya or pineapple.
In addition to organizing experiential activities for travelers, farms in Taiwan also sell typical agricultural products of the farm like organic vegetables, dried vegetables, tea and coffee, fruit jam and cake, herbal souvenirs, products from cow or goat milk, dried seafood, etc.
Food is also an important part of agritourism in Taiwan. In the farms, there are some restaurants or eateries that offer local dishes for travelers such as ranches with fresh milk hot pot, cakes made from goat milk and eggs, and fishing villages with meals with fish soup and grilled seafood.
Besides, Taiwan also organizes many agricultural exhibitions, food fairs and flower festivals throughout the year, bringing fresh agricultural products for travelers.
With the investment in the transformation to agritourism, as of 2016, Taiwan had about 25.5 million travel arrivals to leisure agricultural areas, in which 0.47 million travelers were international and brought for Taiwan about 10,600 NT$ in revenue. The success of Taiwan shows the potential of agritourism to develop and contribute to improving the economy in rural areas.