Extend your Rural Tourism Season By Promoting Agritourism

by Joanne Steele on September 26, 2012

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First off, I’ve finally done it! I’ve separated my writing into two blogs. Each week (hopefully) I’ll blog about internet marketing for micro businesses at the Take Control of Your Internet Marketing blog, and rural development and rural tourism issues here.

Check out my first Take Control blog post:  Are You Prepared For Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)?

….and on to AgritourismFlower Farm produce wagon

I have a Google Alerts set up for “agritourism” and my email box is jammed with new announcements about harvest fests and corn mazes and u-pick opportunities.

These are farms that make a majority of their yearly agritourism income in the next 6 weeks!

This is also the time of year when many northern hemisphere rural tourism towns find their adventure tourism business dwindle down to nothing.

Fall can become any rural community’s valuable shoulder season.

Fall agritourism activities can extend an adventure tourism town’s visitor season.

What are people looking for in the fall? Harvest related activities, fall color, U-pick opportunities, farmer’s markets, pumpkin patches, corn mazes. Any chance to get out in the countryside with the changing of the season!

Now is the perfect time to plan for next year’s fall season for your town.

If your town doesn’t have existing agritourism operations close by, don’t give up on fall. Look at what kind of fall activity you can create.

Pumpkin carving contests and children’s Halloween costume parades. These are already happening in many small rural communities. Expand them and invite your urban neighbors! – it’s all about expanding what you’re already doing and marketing it.

Harvest Festivals. You don’t need a farm close by to have a harvest fest. Here’s an idea I’d love to see used. Every town in my area has fruit trees in almost every yard with fruit going to waste. Sound familiar??? Host a Gleaning Day as part of a harvest festival where you invite visitors to pick and use your town’s bounty of fruit.

If you have agritourism operations close by are you maximizing the opportunity for your town?

Last year I visited Apple Valley east of Sacramento, California with my son and his family. The marketing of that area is fantastic, with maps and websites and more. I was surprised that more of the towns on the highway between Sacramento and Apple Valley hadn’t jumped on the Harvest Festival bandwagon. The ones that did were packed with visitors the day we went.

Partner with your agritourism operations and make certain your town is part of their marketing. If you are on the route between a major metropolitan area and a farm tour destination, your restaurants and shops will benefit.

Do it now

You will able to see where your best opportunities lie if you look at Fall tourism in the Fall. It’s also the best time to get a team of people excited about helping. They will be able to witness the benefits and opportunities first hand rather than trying to remember them six months from now.

So now, I’m off to pick apples! There’s enough for 10 families on the tree I’ll be gleaning from.

Here are two past posts on agritourism:

Agritourism: Just Another Way to Say Rural Tourism

Would a Farm Tour Help Your Rural Community?

Photo of the Flower Farm on California Farm  To Table website

 

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