Bigger than wine, WA’s Agritourism future

Researchers at The University of Western Australia (UWA) have published an in-depth report on WA’s agritourism industry which includes a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening the sector post COVID-19. If enacted, the recommendations could provide a valuable boost for farmers, and raise the state’s profile as an agritourism destination.

The report, published by the Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products (CRCHBP) in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) includes the most detailed audit of agritourism businesses in WA to date. To develop this, investigators Dr Kirsten Martinus, Dr Bryan Boruff & Ms Rebecca Holliday mapped the types and locations of all known agritourism businesses in the state. They also documented their marketing strategies, assessed the experience of visitors, and the challenges and opportunities each business faced.

Lead investigator Dr Martinus explained that while WA’s wine industry has been extensively publicised,’ agritourism’s potential extends far further.

“There are a plethora of other food and beverage businesses just as unique and high quality as the wine industry, especially the fast growing, and unique offering of the honey bee industry. This report provides a more nuanced understanding of wider agritourism opportunities, as well recommendations on how develop these businesses,” explained Dr Martinus.

Recommendations put forward in the report include the creation of an organised certification system based on a detailed typology of experiences, along with development of an online hub to provide tourists with a better understanding of the diverse agritourism experiences available. Continued innovation, improved communication with other sectors, and ongoing evaluations would also be crucial. 

Dr Martinus also emphasises that beyond economic interests agritourism also provides a social good for visitors and local communities.

“Agritourism is more than just an industry sector, it’s a social and cultural experience that engages providers and visitors and enhances community wellbeing. Agritourists become storytellers, taking their experience back home and relaying it to others. This makes regional branding highly effective and important for supporting the growth of agritourism.”

Tourism is the lifeblood of many small communities, and with COVID-19 having a devastating impact on traditional tourism, the resilience of agritourism due to its split cashflow between visitors and farming demonstrates its importance as an industry.

The Full Report “Agritourism in Southwest Western Australia” can be accessed HERE.