In Georgia, agriculture and tourism are the state’s top two economic generators. Agritourism is a merger of the two, and it is alive and thriving.
What exactly is agritourism? It’s a unique experience that combines traditional agriculture with tourism. It includes visits to working farms, orchards, ranches, wineries, and other agricultural operations. These destinations offer a variety of outdoor adventures as well as educational, entertainment, relaxation, hospitality, shopping, and dining experiences.
The goal of agritourism is to provide an opportunity for the customer to enjoy, relax, engage, be educated, purchase products and be involved in activities; and for the owner to make a profit from the use of existing assets. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, tourists are taking shorter, closer to home vacations and seeking experiences as a part of their trips. Families want to strengthen their relationships by being together and create memorable experiences.
In today’s technology-driven world, people are thirsty to get back to their roots, to enjoy the outdoors and awaken their senses to things from their heritage. People are starving for authenticity. Respect for the land and respect for ingredients. Respect for heritage and respect for the culture. Agritourism creates an environment whereby people can participate in friendly discovery and learning activities in natural settings. It blends entertainment and education and is also known as agri-entertainment.
The benefits of agritourism are numerous.
- Farmer: Source of additional revenue
- Community: An opportunity to showcase local products and host educational events for area schools and groups
- Environment: To preserve agricultural land
- Tourist: Offering an outdoor experience
The good news about starting an agritourism operation, you don’t have to start from ground zero. People are curious about what happens on a farm—so start with farm tours, farm stays, petting zoos, harvest festival, corn mazes, u-pick fruit, and other events with your existing resources. Wild Adventures in Valdosta started as a petting zoo (Liberty Farms in 1996), and is now a successful theme park.
The only limit to an agritourism adventure is your imagination and commitment. As Paul Harvey once said, “God looked down on the earth, he created and said, I need a caretaker for this world I have made and so…God made a farmer.”
FiveStar Customer Service
Rita Suiter, the founder of FiveStar Customer Service Strategies, is a motivational speaker, customer service trainer, consultant, agritourism advocate and has clients in 17 states. Her clients range from destinations marketing organizations, agritourism entities, schools and universities, financial institutions, healthcare entities, governments, utility companies, and retail and wholesale businesses. She customizes her presentations and strategies to meet the needs and expectations of her clients.