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
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