Cultivating success in agritourism

Cultivating success in agritourism

What are the potential approaches for Vietnam to become a leader in agricultural tourism? RMIT Lecturer of Tourism and Hospitality Management Dr Trang Pham explains.

Read the previous article about the emerging development of agritourism in Vietnam and the challenges it is facing.

The distinctive appeal of agritourism lies in the combination of natural and traditional cultural values in a rural setting. To ensure effective development, there needs to be an organised “servicescape” [the physical environment in which a service process takes place] for agritourism activities. This can be farms, fields, orchards, traditional craft villages, and other rural areas with unique cultural values, festivals, or local cuisine.

The participation of local communities is particularly important. Local residents, intimately connected with their cultural environment and production methods, play a crucial role in organising and sharing cultural values with tourists. They become the custodians and sharers of agricultural cultural values, contributing to the uniqueness of the tourist experience.

Balancing the interests among participants in agricultural tourism is also crucial. Local residents, tourism companies, and other stakeholders should mutually share economic, cultural, social, and environmental benefits.

Tourism activities have notably increased local income through services like homestays, guiding, performances, and the consumption of locally produced goods. Therefore, effective promotion and communication of destinations are vital for agricultural tourism. Building a brand for specific locations and agricultural products linked to their place of origin can contribute to the success.

tea harvesters on a hill Many tea plantations in Vietnam are open to tourists (Photo: Pexels).

One of the most crucial tasks is to avoid monotonous and repetitive products in agricultural tourism. Identifying key products and emphasising the uniqueness of each locality is vital.

In Vietnam, given the small scale of agriculture, large farm tourism models may not be suitable. Future investments in agricultural tourism should focus on offering small-scale, refined, professional, and friendly services such as homestays and educational tours for school children.

Complementary products for agricultural tourism should aim to supplement services related to health care, healing foods, natural cosmetics, and spa experiences. This diversification enhances the overall tourism experience and caters to a broader range of visitor interests, while contributing to the sustainability and attractiveness of agricultural tourism in Vietnam.

Agritourism can adopt and embody many aspects of the green lifestyle, as successful models in other destinations such as Taiwan or Japan have shown. The Fairy Lake Leisure Farm in Taiwan, for example, integrates lychee and coffee cultivation with processing into high-value items. It aims to offer tourists safe dining options, comfortable accommodation, enjoyable recreational activities, and trustworthy shopping experiences.

Meanwhile, the community of Yufuin in Japan created the YUFUIN PLUS brand to promote locally produced organic items and reduce reliance on imports. Restaurants serve unique menus inspired by Western and Japanese cuisines, while tourist activities like cycling, train rides, and festivals showcase the local crafts, culinary arts, and agriculture. Community exchanges educate locals about tourism, encouraging participation. This integrated approach amplifies agricultural value and facilitates tourist engagement.

A look over Yufuin in Japan (Photo: Unsplash) A look over Yufuin in Japan (Photo: Unsplash)

In Vietnam, the country’s embrace of agritourism marks a promising step towards rural development, cultural preservation, and economic sustainability. The nation's rich agricultural landscape and cultural heritage provide a fertile ground for immersive and educational experiences, contributing significantly to the broader tourism sector.

While challenges such as product development, service quality, and connectivity persist, different approaches offer pathways to overcome these hurdles. Emphasising the combination of natural and cultural values, encouraging local community participation, and diversifying offerings can enhance the appeal of agritourism. By navigating the challenges and leveraging its unique strengths, Vietnam can position itself as a leader in sustainable and culturally enriched agritourism.

Story: Dr Pham Huong Trang, Lecturer of Tourism and Hospitality Management, The Business School, RMIT University Vietnam

  • Tourism & Hospitality

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