AgriTourism – Talk About a Growing Trend

By Ben Martin

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of prefixes applied to ‘tourism’ and this can lead to some confusion. For example, when discussing this article on a transatlantic conference call a few weeks ago, someone’s dog barked at a crucial moment and consequently I found myself exploring the intriguing world of aggrotourism.

Aggrotourism focuses on the trips and cathartic activities that people undertake to relieve their pent-up stress and aggression. These include attending events around the world to celebrate things such as the International Pillow Fight Day (this year taking place on 6th April), or the tomato throwing festival ‘La Tomatina’ in Buñol, Spain. It also includes things such as travelling to Rome to train as a Gladiator and attending a Demolition Derby in Kentucky. All interesting stuff I was told, but I got the wrong end of the proverbial dibber and the focus was actually meant to be on agritourism.

In contrast to aggrotourism, agritourism is a lot more tranquil and relaxing. An example of agritourism might be an overnight stay on a farm or ranch where guests typically have the opportunity to ‘muck in’ and take part in activities such as picking fruit, herding sheep, milking cows or crushing grapes.

The trend may be here for the long haul. Agritourism is estimated to grow by a staggering 17 percent in 2019 according to Technavio in their sector overview, highlighting that more and more of us are looking to reconnect with nature and de-stress from our hectic urban lifestyles. Agritourism also allows us to enjoy the nostalgia of activities that were central to the day-to-day life of our forebears, as well as teach our children where foods like milk, apples and potatoes come from.

With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities and the likes of Uber Eats making it increasingly easy to forget where our food comes from, agritourism has an important role to play. We are now finding that even luxury hotel operators are picking up on the trend. For example, you can dine at the Chef’s Table at the Six Senses in Portugal, enjoying organic produce from the hotel’s garden and local area learning all about traditional farming techniques and gastronomy.

Accommodations on a farm-stay can be basic if you want it to be, but there are an increasing number of concepts being offered that add some luxury to the experience. Featherdown Farms offer tented safari camps and lodges, for example, that include an outdoor hot-tub for relaxation after a hard day tramping around the countryside.

The Soho Farmhouse takes the concept even further. It is a ‘member’s club’ facility set within 100 acres of the Oxfordshire Countryside, which combines the ‘farm experience’ with a range of luxury amenities including a spa, projection room and multiple pools.

Not to be outdone by its European buddies, America is in on the act as well. White Lodging’s ‘Farm at Crossroad Commons’ in Northwest Indiana, an HKS project, will comprise a working education-based farm as the centrepiece of a 40-acre mixed-use project that includes four hotels, office space and a range of leisure amenities.

For those who haven’t tried agritourism, it’s a fantastic way to unwind and refocus. It also helps to drive much-needed additional income into the rural economy, improving the resilience of traditional farming operations. But be prepared for a little teenage ‘aggro’ when your off-spring discover the lack of WiFi in your field.  

Ben Martin

Ben Martin is the lead for Real Estate Consulting for HKS, responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ben has 23-years’ experience in consulting focusing on a mix of integrated mixed-use projects, resort development, marinas and waterfronts, branded residential schemes, visitor attractions, hotels and golf studies.