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Farm vacation is a winning formula for all parties

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

European farmers manage to keep their farms open for urban tourists and the urban tourists get a healthy, cheap and educational holiday.

The World Tourism Organization presents a very broad definition of agricultural tourism: "Every agricultural farm that is open for visitors, with or without lodging, deals with agricultural tourism, where guests will be invited to observe agricultural activities, to participate in it, to enjoy its produce."

The deal is excellent for both sides. The tourists come mostly from busy cities. They seek a peaceful and healthy vacation, a sharp change in their routine. Most of them do not want to work on the farm, God forbid. Agricultural tourism is also ideal for a family vacation with children; It is considered healthy - the fresh air and rural food are part of the deal; It even has educational aspects - the children learn how to bake bread, how to look goat and what to make cheese; In most farms, the activities are included (hiking, sailing and horseback riding) at the price of accommodation or visit. The motives of the farm owners are economic, of course. Usually the younger generation develops tourism on farms, while their parents would prefer to give up the noisy guests. Others accept the need to compromise. "I sometimes wonder if agro-thurism is a job for farmers, is it farming, it's our job to grow crops and animals, but I say even if our farm deteriorates into a tourist attraction, it's worthwhile. The preservation of the farm as a farm is worth everything. "The secret lies in this: the openness to agricultural tourism enables farmers to continue to operate the family farm, even if it is no longer profitable. The tourist offices in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia and other countries have noticed the advantages inherent in its development: it is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to improve the standard of living of low-income farmers living in remote areas. The danger that has been threatening for decades in these areas is the emptying of residents due to migration to the big cities. Encouraging farmers and villagers to develop agricultural tourism has proven to be a successful solution, enabling them to continue to live in their places. It also has historical value: the preservation of rural architecture, festivals and traditional customs, which tourists like to call "authentic", and the continued use of ancient technologies that have almost disappeared.

The cheese track and the cider track

Tia Zanko, a small farmer in southern Greece, not far from the town of Nafplio, rents six rooms in a new wing that has added to her home. On the porch hangs a large cage with green parrot that curses in Greek. One of the Zanko boys is raising horses in a pen behind the house. "My parents made a living by farming," says Zanko, "but then we lived in great modesty, we ate what we raised, and today we can not change our way of life. The advantage is that the development of a farmhouse for accommodation does not involve too much investment. "No one expects us to dig a swimming pool in the courtyard," she says, smiling. "In most places, some of the abandoned farm buildings are being renovated and suitable for living. We do the design ourselves, no one brought an architect from Athens to design guest rooms here. "The flourishing of food and wine tours also contributes to the flourishing of agricultural tourism, both of which are born for each other. The farmers are able to prepare delicacies for them and the tourists enjoy a culinary experience, for example, in Quebec, Canada, offering a variety of routes, all of which have an agricultural and culinary flavor, including a "cheese track," the "seven local taste farms" "Each of the trips includes at least one meal at a farmhouse, and the meals are served on simple furnishings, with rustic tools A wine cellar, a converted barn, wine lovers in France, Italy, California and other wine regions choose a combination of vacation with a residence on a farm where wine grapes are grown, a visit and a study at the winery.

Paphos's loss

Cyprus is considered one of the most successful examples of agricultural tourism development. In the early 1990's, the "Leone Project" was launched in the western part of the island. The project, which bears the name of the plane on which the efforts were focused, was initiated by the "Friends of the Earth" organization and the Cyprus Tourism Organization. One of the salient conclusions of the project is that agricultural tourism has attracted "quality" tourists to the island, that is, those who are interested in culture and are willing to spend significant sums of money. The financial incentives paid by the government of Cyprus were granted only to residents who lived in the villages throughout the year and did not operate the farms as a tourist and seasonal business only.

The residents of the coastal villages in the very touristy area of ​​Paphos, in the south, are jealous of the agricultural tourism farms that have managed to preserve the traditional villages without destroying their way of life.

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