Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Ecotourism and Agritourism Working Together

Irene Lane, who we met last September at the  International Ecotourism Conference, recently launched an ecotourism website called Greenloons. She got in touch to ask if she might write a guest post for us. Here, Irene offers some compelling suggestions for ways that agritourism and ecotourism might be better integrated.


Pleasant Springs Farm Butterfly

By Irene Lane


As a manner of introduction, earlier this year I founded an ecotourism travel services company that specializes in offering independently certified, family-oriented ecotours.  I became interested in ecotourism when I noticed my own young son's wide-eyed fascination with nature whether we traveled across an ocean or across the state.  These were 'teachable moments' for my son that marked his personal growth, and it occurred to me that other families might benefit from an opportunity to experience nature in a way that would be educational, inspirational, safe and fun.  In this way, agritourism and ecotourism are very similar. There are some fundamental ways the industries can work together to promote our common sustainability goals, including:


Incorporating farm stays into ecotourism itineraries

In December 2010, the  University of Costa Rica published a study that discussed the agritourism and ecotourism marketing efforts in that country.  Costa Rica has both strong agricultural traditions and a thriving ecotourism industry.


The study delineated some interested examples of how cross-industry promotional efforts have helped farmers as well as ecotour operators. These examples included incorporating ½ to full-day coffee plantation, traditional fishing, dairy, and pineapple tours. Ecotour itineraries featured local guides and accommodations as well as meals made with, of course, local ingredients.


Developing relationships with ecotour operators


With the exception of Alaska, the United States is relatively new to the concept to ecotourism and where there is chaos, in my opinion, there is opportunity.  Ecotour operators are looking to provide their customers with unique experiences in the United States that will set them apart from the traditional mass-market tourism that has existed in this country.  Therefore, it would be worthwhile for farm stay operators to contact ecotour operators (which I could help with) to see if the farm can be included as part of an itinerary (i.e. providing accommodation, providing local farm lunch, helping with some light conservation work, conducting a tasting of local farm products, attending a farm food festival).


Promoting the educational value of farm activities

Many school curriculums are beginning to incorporate the use of a school garden into their science, health, nutrition, and math lessons.  What better way to bring these concepts to life than to have farm stay school programs that teaches about farm traditions and food production? (editor's note: read here about The Inn at East Hill Farm's Farm School program).


Basically, for both ecotourism and agritourism, it comes down to increased awareness and better perception of the industry's economic, social, and environmental benefits.  Since my family ecotour destinations company, Greenloons, has launched, the site has been phenomenally received.  It's been very exciting and proves that there is tremendous market potential for these unique, educational, and fun tour experiences.

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