Agritourism in Europe: Enabling Factors and Current Developments of Sustainable On-Farm Tourism in Rural Areas

Agritourism in Europe: Enabling Factors and Current Developments of Sustainable On-Farm Tourism in Rural Areas

Thomas Streifeneder (Institute for Regional Development, EURAC Research, Italy) and Thomas Dax (Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics, Rural and Mountain Research, Austria)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1302-6.ch003

Abstract

For many decades, agritourism has emerged as a particular form of tourism addressing the desire of urban people to spend holidays in the countryside with experiencing typical agricultural surroundings and activities. On-farm touristic activities offer farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income to supplement their low agricultural income. This supports maintaining the viability of active farms and rural communities, particularly in areas of natural constraints like mountain regions. Agritourism activities enhance and promote agricultural resources, traditions, and culture. Following this line of thought, agritourism results in being a successful example of sustainable tourism that has gained importance over the years. The chapter provides a comprehensive scientific overview on the development, situation, challenges, and limits of agritourism in mountain regions, exemplified by the situation in the European Alps as a relevant type of sustainable tourism and on-farm diversification in rural areas.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

For many decades agritourism has emerged as a particular form of tourism in rural areas addressing the desire of urban people to combine holidays in the countryside with experiencing typical agricultural surroundings and activities. On the other hand, agritourism offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income through on-farm touristic activities and helps in supplementing their low agricultural income. This supports to maintain the viability of active farms and rural communities, particularly in areas of natural constraints like mountain regions. The more general understanding of agritourism states that agritourism activities enhance and promote agricultural resources, traditions and culture. In particular, small family farms might contribute substantially to the management of the cultural landscapes which are deemed as highly features for the provision of public goods and ecosystem services in mountain regions. The high quality of natural resources and place-specific cultural heritage of these regions usually is addressed as the specific uniqueness and attractive elements for agritourism initiatives (Lo et al. 2017, Lun et al. 2016).

Agritourism plays a crucial role within the growing fields of agro-food studies (Ermann et al. 2018), culinary heritage and culinary tourism (Slocum, 2018). It brings the rural, rural culture close to the guest, mediates the farm's own products and the traditional culinary art. Agritourism represents a genuine way and authentic response that faces the desire for “idyllic rurality” as an actual social phenomenon characterised by a socially constructed rurality (Baumann 2018, 118). In other words, it enables the access to authentic rural and agricultural lifestyles in the countryside. Therefore, authentic agritourism may contributes to understanding the needs and requirements of the agricultural production and actors, and the ideas and demands of the predominantly urban side. This may prevent or revert the currently on-going alienation between urban and rural populations. Through its multi-faceted and target-group oriented features this tourism type enhances customized travels to rural and mountain areas and authentic experiences of places, agriculture and farm life, far away from the tourist centres.

Agritourism or farm holidays are increasingly in demand in Europe and result in being a successful example of sustainable tourism that has gained importance over the years. Rural tourism associations are spreading worldwide to develop this sustainable tourism offer in rural areas. But the differences between involved tourism actors in contents and approaches are substantial. Each country and most regions have their own definitions and rules. So far, there are no clear common international guidelines, even not at the European level where also different terms are used. On the one hand, it speaks of the necessary development of “agricultural tourism” and on the other it wants to “bring agriculture and rural tourism together by promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in rural areas” (EC, The Council of the European Union, 1999, 2006). In a time of “ubiquitous urbanity” driven by the diffusion of urbanity into the last corners of non-urban spaces (Dirksmeier 2009; Siebel 1999), with rural characteristics disappearing at the same time due to demographic change and ‘rural exodus’ (ESPON 2017), agritourism could be an important element in counteracting the geographical and cultural marginalization of rural spaces. An acknowledgement of the crucial aspects of agritourism might enable increased political support and its integration into rural policy funding schemes.

The sector is characterised by various challenges. One challenge is linked to the success in many western and northern European countries. The enormous demand for this type of tourism has led some providers to lure tourists with similar offers that have little or nothing to do with an authentic farm holiday. So, on the one hand, activities are required that aim at protecting those who want to spend a holiday on a farm that is still farmed and which offers an insight into the world of agriculture and work. On the other hand, such activities would also defend the interests of providers who offer agritourism. Clear distinction between different tourism types would allow promoting the assets of agritourism more specifically and also report the development of agritourism more convincingly through appropriate monitoring schemes. Therefore, agritourism is to be distinguished clearly from other tourist offers in the rural area, which do not fulfil these achievements and characteristics.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset