Agritourism: Diversification Special: Ten ways to enter the tourism market
With agritourism a growing market even before the pandemic began, Savills’ Adam Davies gives his top tips for farmers looking to test the market
From wellness in the wilderness to weddings, innovative farmers and landowners across the country have been finding ways to tap into the demand for agritourism, UK-based holidays, experiences and events.
Adam Davies associate director in Savills tourism, leisure and events team said there was a wide range of ways to tap into the market, from adding value to what was already done on farm to converting redundant buildings into venues, shops, cafes or accommodation.
“Key to success is doing something you are passionate about and have the time and resources to do well in conjunction with your normal farming requirements,” he said.
He added it could be seasonal, ad-hoc or year-round depending on the business priorities and target market.
But ideas needed to be well thought out and businesses need to consider market demand, competitors and the skills and passion of the people involved as well as financial requirements, health and safety, insurance and sales and marketing. Mr Davies gave his top tips on ways to enter the agritourism market.
Safe drinking water must be supplied and we recommend providing a decent toilet block. Farms can list their campsites on online booking sites which take a commission.
2. Dog walking
Fence off a field – a 1.8m high fence is often required by users – provide all-weather parking and a website for online bookings. Charges range from £5-15/hour. Farmers will need change of use planning permission but, as no permanent development is taking place, most planners are in favour. Public liability insurance is essential but inexpensive.
3. Farm vending machines
These have no location costs, little staffing requirements and can operate 24 hours a day. This can be a good way to test the market before opening a full-blown farm shop.
4. Farm tours and workshops
These are growing in popularity, with a real desire from the general public to find out more about where their food comes from and experience what life on the farm is like. A risk assessment will be required as well as notifying insurers. Hand washing facilities and toilet provision should be supplied.
5. E-bike hire
Users have to be 14 to go on public roads but this does not apply off road. Further income could be generated from helmet, pannier and lock hire. Owners will need storage space, a workshop and will need to ask for a returnable deposit.
6. Ice cream
Ideal for dairy farmers in key tourist and coastal areas. Keep an eye on the weather forecast to gauge demand, and market the product on social media. Food hygiene training is essential.
7. Co-working spaces
Former farm buildings converted into shared working spaces will require planning permission.
8. Micro weddings
Intimate venues and Instagram-able backdrops are in vogue. Aside from the cost of converting and kitting out barns and outbuildings, in England and Wales a licence for civil ceremonies will be needed at an approximate cost £1,800.
This is a niche market but if films or TV shows have been shot in iconic locations, some landowners are charging people to come and take photos for social media.
10. Branded camping
Some landowners are going into partnership with glamping franchises which will help establish and market the site in exchange for a percentage of the takings.