The benefits of red-meat farmers opening the gate to agri-tourism.

Executive Summary

Tourism is now New Zealand’s biggest export earner which is rapidly growing, with close to five million tourists expected in 2023.  A large draw-card attracting tourists to New Zealand is the rolling hills, farming persona and pristine environment.  If New Zealand farmers can leverage off international tourists, and provide each of the five million a positive on farm experience, what are the benefits on farm, to the tourism and agriculture sectors, and beyond?

This research outlines the benefits that occur because of agritourism.  Firstly, the benefits that occur on farm are explored.  These include the benefits to the farming family, and also include positive outcomes from a tourist perspective.  Secondly, benefits are explored from the agricultural sector and the tourism sector.  Lastly, the benefits on a global scale are defined.

The most important benefit, and motivator, for a farmer venturing into to agritourism is the social aspect.  Farmers also benefit financially from utilising accommodation on farm and from the creation of employment.  Agritourism is also an opportunity for farmers to engage directly with their consumers and educate the urban population about food production.

This was also one of the main benefits and motivators from the tourist’s point of view; the ability to connect with food production and the environment. These trends are already visible in New Zealand with over a quarter of international tourists visiting a farm or orchard while on holiday here in 2016.  The rising number of Free and Independent Travellers are also creating a spread from tourist hot-spots to the regions.

Because of the spread in tourists, and interest in New Zealand’s farming culture, both the agricultural and tourism sectors benefit from agritourism.  Local food production provides regionalised distinctiveness to tourists, while simultaneously offering farming groups an opportunity to connect with their consumers and ‘tell their story’ of ethical, sustainable and clean green food production directly.

Globally, there are benefits of opening the farm-gate to agritourism by showcasing, from the source, exactly what farming in New Zealand entails.  Consumers will continue to ‘tell the story’ for New Zealand producers, which in turn, has the potential to reach an untapped community of consumers currently oblivious to our farming systems.

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