FROM THE DESK OF CHDC’S TOURISM DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

Is agritourism the diversity that farms and properties are looking for, as we move towards 2020?

Agritourism, Farm Stays, Escapes, Retreats. These are all buzz words around farming communities across the whole of Australia as farm properties look to diversify their businesses. It may be to get through leaner years or to give family members another option to stay on the land if traditional farming business is not necessarily their thing.

These types of tourism businesses are certainly not new and are well established, with some operating in Australia for well over 50 years. Don’t take my word for it though. Think about the country shooting and fishing estates and lodges of England, Scotland and other parts of the UK and Europe, where this type of tourism product is not only big business, it is huge business. It’s been the realm of Kings and Queens, Ladies and Lords for centuries, but now, even in those parts of the world, farm stays and the like are enjoyed by all.

What about insurance, biosecurity and the like? Back in the 1990s, the outdoor adventure and nature-based tourism sector did cop a bit of a hiding from insurance brokers. And Mad Cow Disease in the UK affected the tourism sector, but not always adversely – businesses just changed practices and procedures to ensure all was okay on the biosecurity front. Likewise, insurance has also matured and now it is certainly not a “game breaker” for anyone wanting to set up tourism services on their farms and properties. If other nature-based tourism companies can successfully exist with taking families, couples and school kids skiing, rock climbing / abseiling, mountain biking, surfing and the like, it is certainly possible to have visitors wander around a farm, experiencing all the great things there is on offer.

So, what’s on offer and what are others doing in this region? It’s really anything and everything you are already doing on your farm or property that’s of interest to visitors. Sometimes they’re even helping with tasks of feeding cattle / sheep, rounding up cattle, fixing fences and the like. These may seem mundane to the operator, but they are unique and enjoyable experiences for visitors, who now desire more authentic activities whilst on holiday. Cap it off by offering a campfire dinner at sunset and you’ve delivered the perfect day.

It’s also worth considering offering accommodation as part of the experience. Renovated shearing sheds, old stables, and even water tanks have been converted into unique lodgings. However, the offer does not even need to be that flash. Glamping – glamourous camping – has become the latest trend for this sector. Yes, people are paying good money to sleep in a tent, albeit a posh tent with a bed and nice linen!

In our backyard of Central Queensland, we have a few of these experiences available for families, couples, and even corporate and business groups, all catering for diverse price points and levels of service and luxury. Arcadia Valley Escape, Wallaroo Outback Retreat and Myella Farm Stay are examples. The extensive activities include campfire cooking, swimming, canoeing, bushwalking, bird watching, stargazing, outdoor cinemas, farm tours, workshops, horse riding, farm biking, milking a cow, feeding animals, 4WD tours, fully- and self-catered options, peace and quiet, and red dust. Yep, even red dust is an attraction!

If you would like to know more about getting set up in this tourism market, contact me. For those looking for a farm stay experience, contact one of our Visitor Information Centres here for some advice and inspiration.

For more information or a catch-up, contact Paul Thompson E: tourism@chdc.com.au or T: (07) 4982 4386.

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