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Forging a Global Agritourism Alliance

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Chase LisaSilbernagl Anna
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Forging a Global Agritourism Alliance
Global Agritourism Network -

Over the last decades, tourism changed rapidly. The demand for different offers grew, guests are not only looking for a place to stay, but also for the experience that comes with it. Often, they want to peek into their hosts’ lives, learn about their habits and culture and, most of all, enjoy the local cuisine. One particular type of tourism offering all of these possibilities is agritourism, which is developing and growing all over the world. But different providers around the globe have not yet come to a consensus on what agritourism actually is.

This is one of the reasons why a worldwide alliance between scholars and practitioners that aims to define and unify agritourism was established. We met its current chair, Professor Lisa Chase from University of Vermont Extension (USA), and asked her five questions about the new network.

# Can you give us an idea about the scope of this newly founded agritourism network and its work?

The Global Agritourism Network (GAN) was officially launched less than one year ago, on April 11, 2023. For the Zoom meeting launch, we had 676 registrants from 81 countries and 271 live participants from 55 countries. For those interested in joining GAN, we have set up an ongoing registration form, and we currently have over 650 members from 86 countries. The network is growing every day, especially when we host events and share communications (like this blog post) about the mission and work of the network. GAN welcomes all agritourism stakeholders including agricultural producers, researchers, educators, community planners, government entities, agricultural service providers, development organizations, tour operators, event planners, policymakers and more. The mission of GAN is to enhance the capacity of agritourism stakeholders worldwide by sharing resources and fostering collaborations.

I was honored to be elected as the founding chair of GAN. I serve on the executive committee with Carla Barbieri of North Carolina State University, who was elected as vice chair; Rohana Mahaliyanaarachchi of Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka was elected as treasurer; and Chadley Hollas of Cultivating Tourism (USA) is GAN’s secretary. Although the network was recently founded, Thomas Streifeneder of the Institute for Regional Development of Eurac Research is serving as honorary past chair because of his important role in the development of the network. The GAN steering committee is made up of the executive committee plus the chairs for 14 regional committees around the globe and 11 auxiliary committees on a variety of topics including research, definitions and standards, policy and advocacy, communications, education, and sustainable and regenerative agritourism.

"The network is growing every day, especially when we host events and share communications (like this blog post) about the mission and work of the network. "

Chase Lisa

# How was the idea of GAN born?

In 2018, Eurac Research hosted the 1st World Agritourism Congress (WAC) in Bolzano. At the congress, Mr. Pandurang Taware of Agri Tourism India mentioned the need for an international association for agritourism. That was when the seed for GAN was first planted, but it did not sprout right away.

What did happen shortly after WAC 2018 was planning for a follow-up conference. The International Workshop on Agritourism was originally scheduled to take place in October 2020 in Burlington, Vermont, USA. However, the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020 and we postponed the conference. Instead, we gathered online for a series of webinars called Agritourism Gatherings. During the pandemic, we hosted over 20 webinars, approximately one each month, attracting over 2500 unique participants from 82 countries. We finally got together in person and also virtually for a hybrid three-day conference in Vermont in August 2022. We had 352 people joining in person and 152 attending online for a total of 504 participants. At the closing session of that conference, we invited participants to share reflections – and we heard a clear and passionate call for the development of a global agritourism network.

To that end, a small steering committee formed of agritourism leaders from around the world including Eurac Research, Agri Tourism India, Agritourism Africa, NAFDMA International Agritourism Association, Farmstay, University of Vermont, North Caroline State University, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, and the Community Based Tourism Initiative of Uganda among others. With broad input, we developed a plan to establish the Global Agritourism Network.

1st World Agritourism Congress 2018© Eurac Research

# What are the main activities of the network?

GAN has adopted a distributed leadership structure, where the executive committee focuses on the overall functioning of the network, and much of the work on the ground happens through the regional and auxiliary committees. The chairs of those committees are given substantial leeway to direct their own course in partnership with the members of their committee. For example, the research committee is leading an effort to conduct surveys of agritourism operators in different countries with the goal of comparing and contrasting findings in different parts of the world. We believe this is the first attempt to coordinate an international study of agritourism operators. Another example is the definitions and standards committee, which is in the process of facilitating a series of participatory meetings to identify common values for agritourism around the globe. While the auxiliary committees are focusing on specific issues, the regional committees are strengthening collaborations and organizing events, both online and in-person, focused on their geographic regions.

# How was the experience so far?

The seed that was planted at the World Agritourism Congress in 2018 in Bolzano has developed an expansive root system in rich, fertile soil. With nurturing through the series of online Agritourism Gatherings and the hybrid International Workshop on Agritourism in 2022, the Global Agritourism Network poked through the soil and sprouted at the online launch in April 2023. Reaching for the sun, GAN is growing into a robust tree that is spreading its crown, flowering, and beginning to bear fruit. We are experiencing a ripe moment for agritourism around the globe, and GAN is poised and ready to assist agricultural producers, their communities, and the support ecosystem necessary for a thriving agritourism sector.

# What are the network’s future plans?

GAN is growing rapidly, providing tremendous opportunities as well as challenges. We are currently working on a strategic plan for GAN including legal incorporation and financial sustainability for the long-term. We are a volunteer network, and securing funding is important for growing the network and amplifying our work. At the same time, promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and access is a priority for GAN, as we seek to build a support network for everyone working in agritourism in all parts of the world. To learn more about GAN, visit the dedicated section on the website of the World Agritourism Platform.

Chase Lisa

Chase Lisa

Dr. Lisa Chase is the Director of the Vermont Tourism Research Center, and she is an Extension Professor at the University of Vermont. Her research and outreach focus on the intersection of food systems, community vitality, tourism, and working landscapes. With agritourism at the center of that intersection, Dr. Chase has worked with farmers, food entrepreneurs, and tourism businesses throughout Vermont and around the world for more than 20 years. She co-authored the book Food, Farms and Community: Exploring Food Systems and was the conference chair of the inaugural International Workshop on Agritourism, which was held in Burlington, Vermont in August 2022. Following the successful conference, Lisa was elected founding chair of the Global Agritourism Network, which fosters collaboration and provides education, research, and training for agritourism practitioners and scholars worldwide.

Before moving to Vermont, Lisa conducted research and outreach in New York, Colorado, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, among other places. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan, her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in Natural Resource Management and Policy from Cornell University. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, and eating her way around Vermont and other world-class destinations.

Silbernagl Anna

Silbernagl Anna

Anna Silbernagl is a multitasker at the Institute for Regional Development of Eurac Research. After her Master's Degree in Interpreting and Translation at the University of Trieste and several job experiences in different sectors, now, at the institute, she is in charge of the social media, website and blogs, as well as of the organisation of meetings, conferences and congresses. Currently, she and her colleagues are oganizing the 2nd World Agritourism Congress, which is taking place in Bolzano from 16th to 18th May 2024.

Tags

  • agritourism

Citation

https://doi.org/10.57708/bomqnnxqxtacxtxlc7ntayg
Chase, L., & Silbernagl, A. Forging a Global Agritourism Alliance. https://doi.org/10.57708/BOMQNNXQXTACXTXLC7NTAYG

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