Eurac Research is presenting examples from around the world of this successful form of rural and sustainable tourism
The number of farms offering agritourism activities has grown by more than 60 percent in Italy over the last ten years. According to ISTAT data, in 2017 there were 23,406 such authorized farms with a turnover of 1.36 billion euros, an increase of 6.7% compared to the previous year. Two of the most successful Italian regions in this regard are Tuscany and South Tyrol. In the latter case, of the more than 20,000 South Tyrolean farms in existence, about 3,000 offer tourism services in addition to their agricultural activities. The challenges and possible future prospects of this particular form of tourism is being discussed at the first world congress on the subject, organised by Eurac Research in Bolzano from 7 to 9 November.
The 100 invited researchers, experts, stakeholders, professionals and political representatives from 42 countries are bringing their experience to the First World Congress on Agritourism. A total of 250 participants will attend the three days of meetings. "We want to create an international platform on the topic of agritourism," explains Thomas Streifeneder, director of the Institute for Regional Development of Eurac Research and one of the organizers of the congress, "a place where the protagonists and experts in the field can exchange experiences and knowledge in an interdisciplinary way. Of course, the focus is not just on South Tyrol, but on the whole world.”
But what is a farm holiday? In the face of such a wide ranging tourism offer, the congress aims to reach an agreement on its key characteristics. According to Streifeneder, "A farm holiday is a tourist activity on a working, often family-run farm. Agriculture must remain the sector in which the farmer spends more time than tourism. The daily activities of the farmers are the basis for a genuine offer."
But rural tourism is also a form of sustainable tourism. With appropriate policies, it could help developing countries to keep small farms in remote areas alive, generating additional income. It is thus an activity that can safeguard small-scale farming and help maintain rural communities. One example that will be recounted during the congress is Acolhida na Colônia, a network of family farms in Brazil that was analyzed in comparison with the South Tyrolean brand Gallo Rosso to understand how it can be a means for the sustainable development of the territory. As well, Jacqui Taylor, founder of the Agritourism South Africa network, with over 30 years of experience in the sector, will talk about the opportunities offered by agritourism in the African continent.
The congress has been organized by Eurac Research, in collaboration with the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, the Union of South Tyrolean Farmers and Direct Farmers, the network of South Tyrolean holiday farms Gallo Rosso, the City of Bolzano and IDM - South Tyrol.
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