Agri­cul­tural Es­cape

Ru­ral tourism devel­op­ment spe­cial­ist Mar­tine Btaich ex­plores the ris­ing trend of agri­cul­tural tourism, where vis­i­tors get to ex­pe­ri­ence the farm first hand and see ru­ral food har vest­ing and pro­duc­tion in process

Lebanon Traveler - - RESPONSIBLE TOURISM - Nour Farra-had­dad’s Eco-le­banon guide­book lists winer­ies, farms and trip or­ga­niz­ers

Travel in­dustr y trends have been shif ting around the world. Au­then­tic and ex­pe­ri­en­tial tour ism has gained more at­ten­tion as trav­el­ers are seek­ing a re­turn to na­ture, the out­doors, and dif fer­ent leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties. Trav­el­ers have be­come more con­cerned about the food they are eat­ing and are look­ing for health­ier pro­duce and fresh air es­capades away from an of ten un­healthy city life. One of those new travel seg­ments to emerge is agr itour ism.

WHAT IS AGRI­TOURISM?

WHY THE IN­TER­EST?

sleep­ing and eat­ing at vine­yard sites. It is the most de­vel­oped form of agri­tourism in Le­banon. Wine routes, dining at vine­yards, wine fes­ti­vals and events con­nected to food fairs and trails and eco-tourism are grow­ing. Agr itour ism is a cat­e­gor y of ru­ral tour ism com­bined with agri­cul­ture, where trav­el­ers visit a f arm or any agr icul­tural op­er­a­tion to learn about and par tic­i­pate in farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Agr itour ism ac­tiv­i­ties are di­verse and in­clude farm and or­chard vis­its, fruit and veg­etable har vest­ing, and lo­cal pro­duce tast­ing. They could be school tours to farms, hands-on farm ex­per iences, help­ing f arm­ers in their ac­tiv­i­ties, milk­ing a cow or feed­ing an­i­mals. Other ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude lo­cal pro­duce fes­ti­vals, ac­com­mo­da­tion and dining.

WHEN CAN YOU EX­PE­RI­ENCE AGRI­TOURISM IN LE­BANON?

There are no farm stays in Le­banon yet and maybe no real and in-depth farm­ing ex­per ience of fered. Cur­rently most farm­ers haven’t yet en­gaged ser iously in tour ism but ac­tiv­i­ties such as har vest­ing and farm vis­its are de­vel­op­ing. Le­banon’s cli­mate and land­scape di­ver­sity al­lows a great va­ri­ety of crops and plants to flour­ish around the year. Most farm­ers con­cen­trate on farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and 50 per­cent of them don’t have a sec­ond in­come. Ven­tur ing into agr itour ism could coun­ter­bal­ance many risks in­her­ent to the sec­tor that they face ever y year from in­fras­truc­tural gaps, to cli­mate change, and weather risks. Agr itour ism is im­por­tant for ru­ral and farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties and is an op­por­tu­nity for farm­ers to di­ver­sify their ac­tiv­ity and com­ple­ment their in­come. They can sell their prod­ucts, ed­u­cate vis­i­tors about their busi­ness, in­vest in de­vel­op­ing and conser ving their busi­ness and land­scape, and im­prove their life­styles. Agr itour ism is a fun leisure ac­tiv­ity for fam­i­lies, pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity for vis­i­tors to eat fresh, healthy food and learn about farm­ing and about the im­por­tance of preser ving lo­cal agri­cul­ture. Fol­low­ing the emerg­ing de­mand, many places around the countr y have star ted of fer ing cherr y pick­ing, al­monds in May-July, veg­eta­bles in sum­mer, ap­ples, grapes and olives in Oc­to­ber. An­i­mal farm vis­its can be done around the year. One niche of agri­tourism is wine tourism. It in­cludes grape har­vest­ing, wine tast­ing and pur­chas­ing, learn­ing about wine mak­ing,

Fruits of the land – olive har vest­ing in the Shouf. Photo: Lara Kous­saife

La Vallee Blanche farm, Photo: Roula Kous­saife

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