Sustainable tourism is becoming an increasingly popular form of recreation. Its essence is a combination of visiting places with trying to make a positive impact on the environment. Here are some differences from traditional tourism:
- the predominance of natural objects;
- less resource intensity;
- direct participation in the socio-economic development of the visited territories.
It allows you to mobilize the tourism potential to protect nature, stimulate environmental initiatives, and raise the general cultural level of society. Today, this development of tourism is a priority in many states and covers a variety of spheres of life, including agriculture. This industry directly interacts with and affects the environment.
Therefore, by developing agriculture within sustainable tourism, we can solve several problems at once. So it’s possible to ensure sustainable agriculture development and the environmental system; teach people to understand better agricultural processes and the peculiarities of human interaction with the environment.
Sustainable Tourism Types
Tourism plays an essential role in agriculture development. Firstly, it provides additional income for regional communities, and secondly, it contributes to attractive ecosystem development with a fair approach. For tourism to be a sustainable entertainment, it is necessary to create an enabling environment through integrated planning, eco-labeling, etc. Let’s consider the main types of tourism, which are closely related to the environment and agriculture.
This form of tourism is associated with visiting relatively unaffected by anthropogenic activities of natural areas. Under the right circumstances, this is one of the most effective ways to finance the conservation system. The funds received are used to pay for forestry and agriculture costs, the salaries of local employees, and the financing of protected areas. It is especially true for countries with weak economies.
Agritourism is a sort of tourism during which people visit agricultural sites such as farms or ranches. The advantage of such a vacation is a combination of entertainment and educational pastime. Tourists can go fishing, horse riding or fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere of rural life and engage in animal husbandry and agriculture for several days.
Agritourism aims to develop socially and environmentally practical tourism in rural areas. At the same time, it solves cultural and economic problems. Locals receive additional jobs and income and exchange educational experiences with visitors, such as crafts and culinary traditions. Agritourism can take many forms: farms, co op farming activities, camping, equestrian centers, etc.
This type combines the previous two. Since the agricultural landscape usually combines agricultural systems and nature, it can be a more attractive holiday destination than homogeneous rural areas. Thus, agro-ecotourism can be an active economic incentive for small farmers to conduct environmentally friendly agribusiness. Many states are also actively developing agro-ecotourism, for example, Austria and France, as an efficient means of landscape conservation.
This type is based on an organic farm, which essentially minimizes the synthetic fertilizers use, pesticides, etc. It also creates an extra-economic resource to protect the ecosystem. Since large agricultural regions are abandoned in many industrialized states, small farms become the production and financial basis for residents, and tourism activities contribute additional income. Recently, organic farm management has been attracting tourists, contributing to the demand for high-quality supply: eco-friendly architecture, cuisine, and the rural landscapes diversity. Farmers’ dependence on the health of nearby shielded regions makes them critical allies in sustainable management.
Examples of Agro-ecotourism
There are a significant number of successful models of agro-ecotourism. Moreover, each enterprise seeks to diversify the pastime on their farm and provide visitors with a truly unique vacation. We will focus on three such objects.
Peterson Farm (Assaria, Kansas)
Peterson Farm Brothers offer a 19th-century farm tour. Here, visitors feed animals, grow row crops, and engage in daily farming activities.
Lewis Farms (New Era, Michigan)
This site offers over 46 activities and attractions for tourists. They can visit the Sunflower Festival, feed young animals in Baby Animal Days, shoot apple cannons and try to get out of a corn maze.
Purple Haze Lavender (Sequim, Washington)
The main attraction of this farm is the lavender fields. Here you can learn all about this plant, find out how to make lavender vinegar, and even arrange special occasions like weddings. It also hosts virtual tours for everyone who cannot visit the farm in person.
All reviewed objects are located in the United States. However, in each country, agritourism has its national characteristics. Therefore, people always get a unique experience of interacting with the rural environment when traveling the world.
As we see, with the right approach, agritourism plays a vital role in developing eco agriculture. Moreover, the sustainability of agritourism itself depends on the environment’s state. The agritourism sustainability factors are:
Their development ensures the tourists’ interest and, of course, provides the enterprise prosperity.
In turn, agritourism has apparent advantages for visitors. They can learn to choose quality food, engage in active and, more importantly, healthy lifestyles, and get unusual experiences that they do not have in everyday life.
Governments and international organizations also recognize the importance of sustainable agritourism for economic, social, and environmental spheres. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) agreed with the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 2020 to promote sustainable tourism in rural areas. In addition to environmental objectives, such cooperation aims to develop the rural economy, including introducing innovative technologies in agritourism. You can read more about this initiative and other activities on the FAO website here.
Ultimately, the symbiosis of agriculture and environmental protection with tourism contributes to sustainable agriculture and the environment. It is the key to the prosperity of all participants in the process.