Agri­tourism boom

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

WITH agri­tourism now con­tribut­ing more than

$11 bil­lion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy, Aus­tralian Re­gional Tourism be­lieves the time is right to de­velop this grow­ing in­dus­try and em­power ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties to reap the so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits it brings.

Agri­tourism is a tourism-re­lated ex­pe­ri­ence or prod­uct that con­nects agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, peo­ple or places with vis­i­tors on a farm or ru­ral land. Dra­matic in­creases are al­ready be­ing seen in the num­ber of vis­i­tors to farms.

Ac­cord­ing to Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia data, there has been a 56 per cent in­crease in do­mes­tic day trip vis­its to farm gates, a

14 per cent in­crease in do­mes­tic overnight vis­its to farm gates and an 81 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional overnight vis­i­tors vis­it­ing a farm gate.

Aus­tralian Re­gional Tourism has launched its dis­cus­sion paper, Boost­ing Re­gional Aus­tralia through Agri­tourism, in the Se­nate Court­yard of Par­lia­ment House, which paves the way for boost­ing re­gional and ru­ral Aus­tralia.

Chair of Aus­tralian Re­gional Tourism, Si­mon McArthur, said it was vi­tal for ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties to strate­gi­cally de­velop their agri­tourism sec­tors to draw vis­i­tors out from cap­i­tal cities and metro ar­eas, and show­case what is good about their re­gion.

“Con­sumers have a grow­ing de­sire to know where their food, drink and fi­bre comes from, en­joy a re­gional food-based ex­pe­ri­ence, and get up close and per­sonal with farm­ers,” Mr McArthur said.

“Agri­tourism presents a real op­por­tu­nity for Aus­tralian farm­ers to di­ver­sify and build re­silience and show­case the prod­ucts and in­gre­di­ents that ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia are fa­mous for. They need sup­port to do this, and a strate­gic ap­proach is vi­tal to en­sur­ing this sec­tor is de­vel­oped in a sus­tain­able way.

“Struc­tural and mar­ket ad­just­ments have forced many farm­ers to con­sider ad­di­tional sources of in­come to help make their busi­ness more re­silient and more prof­itable.

“Other fac­tors such as in­dus­try re­struc­ture, de­clin­ing terms of trade, drought, and eco­nomic im­pacts also in­flu­ence farm busi­nesses in mak­ing the de­ci­sion to di­ver­sify into agri­tourism and food tourism.

“In­creased con­sumer in­ter­est for th­ese types of ex­pe­ri­ences, com­bined with the need for di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion on farms, presents the ideal op­por­tu­nity for agri­tourism through­out Aus­tralia”

Farmer and owner of Tu­ralla Truf­fles near Bun­gen­dore NSW, Damian Robin­son, is one such farmer who has di­ver­si­fied into tourism with great suc­cess.

“Tu­ralla Truf­fles started in 2000 on our fam­ily’s multi-gen­er­a­tion cat­tle farm in the Bun­gen­dore re­gion thanks to an idea that sparked after I was read­ing about this ex­cit­ing pro­duce,” Mr Robin­son said.

“We re­alised there was a real op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify the farm­ing busi­ness and pro­vide a unique food-based ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors. Vis­i­tors are given a bou­tique ex­pe­ri­ence where they meet the farmer, har­vest the truf­fles and eat as much truf­fle as they want. It is a very im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence.”

What started as an op­por­tu­nity to build brand pro­file, value-add and ed­u­cate peo­ple on truf­fles has re­sulted in a high-de­mand vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence for not only Tu­ralla Truf­fles, but many other farm­ers in the re­gion.

“This ven­ture into tourism has been per­fect for us be­cause we can bal­ance the win­ter truf­fle sea­son with cat­tle busi­ness that tends to qui­eten down in win­ter. The truf­fles only have an eight-week sea­son, so we fo­cus on tourism in th­ese eight weeks and have grown from a few vis­i­tors each week to over 50 vis­i­tors ev­ery week­end, plus pri­vate hunts. We book out well in ad­vance, and now of­fer a farm-based B&B ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mr Robin­son said.

It is clear that Agri­tourism is of­fer­ing grow­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­gional Aus­tralia and farm­ers just like Damian to em­brace the grow­ing de­mand for on farm ex­pe­ri­ences.

❝ Con­sumers have a grow­ing de­sire to know where their food, drink and fi­bre comes from...

— Si­mon McArthur

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