Opportunities for diversification and sustainability in Agritourism routes

Agritourism

Agritourism routes offer opportunities for diversification and sustainability to the agricultural sector in South Africa. The agricultural sector is a key driver of South Africa’s economy given its forward and backward linkages to other sectors. However, after prolonged growth in South Africa’s agricultural economy, recent years have been synonymous with a volatile environment due to changing climatic conditions and macroeconomic variations. This is particularly true for the Western Cape which has been suffering from three successive drought years, resulting in wide-spread job-losses. Even though the agricultural sector only contributes to 4% of the regional economy, it employs around 10% of the entire labour force in the Province. Furthermore, the value of agricultural and agri processing exports make up 52% of total exports from the Western Cape to the rest of the world.

Tourism as an important client to the agriculture sector

Agriculture plays an important role in rural areas, contributing to GDP and serving as a link to other sectors. The South African tourism sector has shown incredible job creation potential and resilience in a challenging economic climate, generating over 40 000 net new jobs in 2017. The sector is a catalyst to create both local employment and revive small towns, with agritourism seen as a niche tourism product offered to local and international tourists.

Agritourism is not new however few studies have been done on agritourism in South Africa despite a wealth of tourism research done on wine tourism. Agritourism gives local and international visitors a glimpse into the life of many inspirational rural South African farmers most often including an experience of few remaining beautiful and wild natural places creating opportunities to diversify income and supporting an entire local economy on farms and entrepreneurs in surrounding rural towns.

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