Critical success factors for developing and managing agri-tourism: A South African approach
Keywords:Agri-tourism, farm tourism, critical success factors, South African farm, Western Cape
While the agri-tourism sector is constantly growing, academic research on the development and management of this sector is limited in South Africa. The agri-tourism sector includes over thirty different activities and attractions. These can be categorised as outdoor recreation, educational experiences, entertainment, hospitality services or on-farm direct sales. It can be challenging to identify a single method for sustainability and success. Although many farmers develop agri-tourism products/services on their farms to generate additional income, several fail because of a lack of planning and management. Part of this planning is to identify the critical success factors needed to successfully manage an agri-tourism business. Research on the critical success factors of agri-tourism has been conducted in several countries, including India, the USA, Europe and Taiwan; however, a South African approach has not yet been investigated.
This study aims to identify critical success factors needed to develop and manage agri-tourism within South Africa, based on various agri-tourism activities and attractions. By following a qualitative research method, these factors were identified through semi-structured in-depth interviews with farmers already managing a successful agri-tourism business. The findings indicated themes such as market research and marketing, customer satisfaction, staff including the need for employees to be happy, financial and business planning, employees’ and employer’s personalities, location and having a unique concept. These themes include elements such as a constant offering of quality products and services, being enthusiastic about your product/service, and understanding what your client wants. Many of these findings are consistent with the success factors identified in other countries, such as customer satisfaction, providing a quality product, good marketing methods and good customer service. As many respondents indicated a lack of prior planning and business analysis when developing their agri-tourism business, these success factors may be used as guidelines for South African farmers who do not know where to start when considering agri-tourism their farms.
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