Symposium to showcase agritourism opportunities

02 June 2021 | Research News

Lincoln University tourism lecturer Jo Fountain is co-leading a symposium in Kaikōura next week to educate farmers on how they can benefit from sharing their properties and stories with visitors.

Agritourism is a growing industry worldwide as more people seek to reconnect with the land and learn where their food comes from. It offers an opportunity for farmers to diversify and create supplementary income, and a chance for planners and destination managers to strengthen regional economies.

The Future of Agritourism Symposium (9 and 10 June) aims to showcase the opportunities within the sector and will include inspirational keynote speakers, interactive panel discussions and field tours. Craig Wilson, of Quality Tourism Development, is collaborating with Dr Fountain to host the event.

The keynote speaker on day 1 is Dan Steele, of Blue Duck Station, which epitomises agritourism by offering activities such as horse riding, kayaking, mountain biking, bush safari, kayaking and jet boating. Its core values are to conserve its endangered wildlife, increase the health of native bush and rivers, and preserve the history of the area.

Another speaker is Marijke Dunselman, who recently founded Agritourism NZ, a peak body that brings together like-minded people who are passionate about creating sustainable agritourism experiences.

“The symposium is very much about collaboration and connection; sharing knowledge and understanding ways that operators can work together,” said Dr Fountain.

“We will have regional tourism organisations from across North Canterbury, discussing ways they can work with and support operators, and hear from some inspirational local operators who have successfully developed new products over the last few years.”

The symposium is the culmination of the agritourism workstream of the Post-Quake Farming Project, which Dr Fountain has been leading over the past two years. Funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries after the 2016 Hurunui/ Kaikōura/Marlborough earthquakes left some hill country farms unable to use 40% of their land, the project aims to make the area more resilient to future challenges.

The Otago Daily Times interviewed Dr Fountain late last year about the project.

“I was brought on board following initial discussions, which found that a number of people were looking at developing tourism opportunities and farmers were interested in being able to tell their stories of their earthquake experience, family heritage, farming practices and ecological diversification,” Dr Fountain said.

At the time of the project’s inception, she was already working with North Canterbury wine growers and the Kaikōura community to explore opportunities for diversifying the local economy.

“It’s about ensuring farmers are making informed decisions by being aware of the opportunities and the pitfalls, whether they are making decisions about tourism, honey or planting trees, and helping them establish useful contacts and networks,” she told the Otago Daily Times.

Anyone with further questions about agritourism should contact Dr Fountain.

* The first day of the Future of Agritourism Symposium is free, and will be held at Mayfair Arts and Cultural Centre, Kaikōura. Field tours are scheduled for 10 June. Register at Eventbrite.