Have you ever visited a farmer’s market or taken the kids to a corn maze or pumpkin patch? Depending on your local government’s definition, all of the above could classify as agritourism.
Agritourism is generally any tourism within the agricultural sector. Think orchards, vineyards, plantations, animal husbandry, and small organic farms.
People love food, and they love traveling to the source. Agritourism is about more than selfies – it allows people to build a deeper relationship with the food they consume. With agritourism, people can get in touch with an essential aspect of their daily lives.
For those reasons, positioning a farm as a travel destination for leisure and education is an excellent way to diversify a farm operation’s income.
The house of a vineyard estate in Tuscany, where agritourism thrives.
Are Tourists Interested in Agritourism?
A few years ago, I visited two separate tea plantations. One estate is in Darjeeling, India, and the other in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. Both estates tap into agritourism through educational estate tours, unique dining experiences, charming tea shops, and hotel deals.
People came from around the world to visit the estates, especially residents of noisy and crowded cities. The tea estates were an inseparable part of the local experience, and the crowds of people attest to market demand.
Fast-forward to 2020, and we live in a socially distanced world. People aren’t traveling as much, but in the coming years, tourism will come roaring back – with a vengeance.
This, in turn, will affect agritourism, which will see sustained growth between 2020-2027 for a target $117.37 billion market cap (a CAGR of 7.42%), according to Fortune Business Insights.
Agritourism by type, global (Fortune Business Insights)
Top Four Trends Shaping the Agritourism Niche
After the madness of 2020, everyone is craving fresh air, healthy food, and ways to make a difference in the world.
Many feel a sense of relief because these are healthy trends for society in the long run. However, we’re not out of the woods yet.
With cities re-entering lockdown and virtually everything about tourism running at a steep discount, now’s the best time you may ever get to explore this explosive trend.
It’s worth repeating; agritourism is going to be huge. The farm tour-and-dine is the alternative to dining downtown, which may be full of gremlins and lava at this point. Big companies are getting on board with virtual tourism, including Amazon and Airbnb.
A tourist-friendly tea farm in Vietman
Virtual Agritourism – The New Normal
Virtual tourism has become more available for millions of people in 2020, and virtual events are often an excellent way to warm people up to the idea of a physical visit.
An agritourism group (Go Rural) surveyed customers during the lockdown and found that 57% would likely book a farm holiday after watching a virtual farm tour. Similarly, 60% would “almost certainly” visit a farm.
From the investor’s angle, trade shows were once among the best ways to meet travel agents, tour operators, and other potential tourism partners. Teleconferencing has nearly swallowed that entire sector, and virtual trade shows are likely to stick long after the pandemic.
Agritourism Market Size by Region (Veracious Statistics)
People Need a Breath of Fresh Air – Low-Effort Nature Tourism
Outdoor activities such as U-pick farms have become a popular escape from the cities during the pandemic. Similarly, Skyscanner’s report found 69% of people say their next vacation will be outdoors, while 42% plan to visit rural areas.
Beyond a cure for cabin fever, farm stays may recover quicker than hotels due to the perceived higher sanitation and social distancing measures.
Wine country is an especially popular agritourism destination
Domestic Agritourism – The Local Aesthetic
The allure to buy local has been a steadily growing trend for many years, and Covid hyper-charged that trend. Also called “slow tourism,” longer-term stays in local destinations will be more prevalent post-COVID-19.
Similarly, a study with Polish domestic tourists found a sharp increase in tourism in the countryside.
Farmsteads can capitalize on their countryside aesthetic through lodging, such as tiny homes. Hosting networks like Airbnb will put your lodging in front of millions of potential visitors, and the supplemental income has provided a moat for many farms in 2020.
The rise of sustainability and healthy living
People have an affinity to make the world a better place, especially in the wake of Covid and our collective effort to do good by one another.
The US boom in agritourism could be repeated in emerging markets
Studies suggest that agritourism development can reduce poverty and improve employment levels within several sectors in rural areas. Plus, many agritourism projects have ecological sustainability and climate change values at their core.
How to Identify Agritourism Hotspots
Where there’s an interesting backstory or process, value-added products, and a killer Instagram photo opportunity, there’s also the potential for an agritourism project.
Italy may be the top location for agritourism globally, or at least it’s the most well-documented. Statista has an absurd amount of data on Italy’s food and wine tourism sector. The country has formally regulated “agriturismo” since 1985. Nearly 30% of all tourists to Italy are motivated by gastronomy.
Growth of Italian Agritourism
While there’s plenty to learn from Italy, it’s worth exploring emerging economies for some of the most lucrative agritourism opportunities.
International Travel Agritourism — Greener Pastures
As people search for a taste of the simple life, they are bound to venture beyond their backyards toward the rural hamlets across their country’s borders and overseas.
When we look beyond the wine tastings and breweries, agritourism’s selling points include authenticity and a window into a more rustic lifestyle.
Many emerging economies are ripe for agritourism expansion in both high-end and mid-range experiences, such as Colombia. The country offers rich cultural experiences and plenty of adventures to natural places. Several sustainable farming projects are also emerging in Colombia. All of that from a country that exhibits excellent biosafety standards, Colombia could be your top destination.
Agritourism in Colombia’s Coffee Region
Latin America enjoys a vast farming landscape and rich gastronomy. Colombia is a highlight for rich music culture, which one can tap into for unique and memorable agritourism programs.
The Vacation of the Future
Agritourism will not only survive the pandemic, but it is also proving to be yet another resilient component of farmland investing, and the outlook for this decade remains impressive.
If you’re looking to start your agritourism project, Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension has put together an excellent guide to get you started.