In my previous article, I discussed the registration of a non-profit association for agritourism in South Africa. Named the Association for Agritourism in South Africa (AASA), this aims to unite tourists and farmers who have developed their own agritourism businesses.
As municipal funding of town tourism centres has declined over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for local and international tourists to find accurate information on attractions and accommodation on South African farms and in surrounding rural communities. Online information is often inaccurate and out of date.
One of the association’s primary objectives is to simplify the process by allowing tourists access to a database that lists rural tourism attractions and available accommodation. Tourists can find all the information they need on agritourism in South Africa in one place, namely the association’s website.
How AASA helps farmers
The association markets a farmer’s agritourism business in a coordinated fashion, which allows the farmer to focus on his or her farming operation. A farmer is required to register with the association online. It is important to remember that AASA is not an online booking portal, but rather offers direct contact between the farmer and the interested tourist.
The association’s website offers information about the farmer’s agritourism business as well as contact details. It is therefore important for the farmer to provide AASA with updates and information on events and other activities.
What farmers should aim for
Farmers who want to participate in agritourism initiatives should agree to subscribe to particular guiding principles, which include the development of environmental awareness amongst farmworkers and visitors, sustainability, the promotion of ethical values, the use of local products rather than imported items, and involving farmworkers and communities in tourism development opportunities.
Recently, at an agritourism venue, I had a conversation with a group of German tourists who were thrilled to have eaten breakfast at the same table as their host. Apart from learning about the farm, the animals and the many challenges farmers in South Africa face, they were in awe of meeting a ‘real’ South African farmer. In all their travels across the globle, this was the first time a farmer had engaged them.
South African farmers are a hospitable and friendly group of people, and should make these qualities work for them and their rural communities to generate income.
As farmers, we should demonstrate to our visitors that we are proudly South African and have an agritourism industry comparable to, or better than, that of any other country. After all, the true heart of South Africa is in its countryside and not in its cities.
For more information, visit agritourismsouthafrica.com.
Jacqui Taylor helps farmers launch and market agritourism initiatives.