An Agri-tourism conference took place in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Monday, 15 October to highlight opportunities for farm families in developing an on-farm tourism business. Agri-tourism 2018, was organised by Teagasc Rural Development together with Galway Co Council and Fáilte Ireland in association with Galway European Region of Gastronomy. This conference “Agri-tourism 2018” is helping to guide rural dwellers on diversification opportunities in agri-tourism.
Pictured from L to R were: Alan Farrell, Galway County Council; Mary Ryan Teagasc; Sinead Hennessy Fáilte Ireland; Hans Embacher, Holiday on the Farm Austria and Barry Caslin Teagasc, at the Teagasc / Galway County Council Agri-Tourism Conference 2018 in association with Fáilte Ireland in the Shearwater Hotel Ballinasloe Co. Galway.
Setting up on-farm holiday accommodation, in the form of bed and breakfast or self-catering cottages, is a popular choice for diversification. There are now many other choices of accommodation such as glamping, pods, shepherd’s huts and yurts. There are opportunities for farmers to complement existing accommodation providers by developing complementary activity businesses such as kayaking, fishing boats, gillie services, cycling, heritage talks, walking tours, artisan food shops etc.
Speaking at the conference Barry Caslin, Teagasc, Rural Development Specialist said: “Agri-tourism is a perfect way to stimulate real impetus into encouraging footfall out of the towns and cities. There is such diversity in rural Irelands visitor activities and attractions, as well as in our specialist farm food producers, all of which make a very compelling case to venture out of the city boundaries. Over the past few years, fantastic diversified farm and rural businesses have opened up to visitors. There is a genuine focus on providing a great experience and developing unique local features and skills. This conference provides important guidance which complements the resurgent interest in Irish food, heritage and holidays.”
Alan Farrell, Acting Director of Services at Galway Co Council, said: “Agriculture, food and tourism are key drivers of rural economies and are often under developed in rural Ireland. Our strong agricultural base, beautiful landscapes, international image, rich heritage and culture as well as the warmth of our people provide huge opportunities to build experiences that will attract international visitors to rural Ireland. Tourists want to experience locally loved places off the beaten path, to hear the stories, to meet the locals and to enjoy quality local sustainable food produced in the region. They want the personal experience of living in close proximity to the family farm and being a part of the experience. This conference, together with the other work we are doing on a partnership basis, will act as a catalyst for development of such experiences and the strengthening of our rural economy.”
Sinead Hennessy from Fáilte Ireland said: “The Irish rural tourism sector generated €8.7 billion during 2017 as international visitors coming to Ireland continue to rise. For some regions, tourism is a fundamental part of the local economy. In this digital age tourists are looking for something tangible which they can latch onto and share digitally on social media. Agri-tourism 2018 provides a comprehensive guide on developing the concept of agri-tourism in business planning and marketing.”