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Tourism and agriculture


Establishing accommodation on your farm to encourage getaways or tourism can be a second revenue stream. It also communicates the farmer’s story to the public.

  • Rural tourism is a concept which covers tourist activity devised and managed by local people, and based on the strengths of the natural and human environment.
  • Ecotourism is about travelling to a natural area to understand the environment and history there “whilst producing economic opportunities that make conservation of natural resources financially beneficial to local citizens” (The Ecotourism Society, 1992).
  • Agritourism is a much narrower concept, referring to the different forms of tourism related to agrarian activities and/or buildings with an agrarian function. This particular form of rural tourism is, therefore, run by farmers, usually as a secondary activity, with farming remaining the principle occupation and source of income.
  • Often, a distinction is made between agritourism and the term farm tourism (farmstays), which is used to refer simply to the use of former farmhouses as tourist accommodation.
Sources: The late Peter Myles, Tourism Specialist

International business environment

Tourism showcases a country’s identity and offering to the world. In 2022, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 7.6% to global GDP; an increase of 22% from 2021 and only 23% below 2019 levels (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2023).




Local business environment

Tourism has been identified as one of the sectors in which South Africa can create jobs (see the “National strategy and government contact” heading). It is labour intensive and, apart from a sincere intention towards clients who are in your care, need not require a high level of skills. And when tourism is happening, jobs are not only created in the travel and tourism sector, but also in many other areas of the economy.

Tourism to South Africa climbed from 491,439 in 2000 to over 10 million in 2019. The COVID pandemic caused a huge reverse and in 2021 the number dropped to just over 3 million. There has been some recovery. In 2022 the number of tourists was 5.6 million. It also was responsible for 3.7% of the GDP (Fourie & Blaauw, 2023).

For the newcomer

Few countries in the world have South Africa’s diverse farming diversity e.g. a capacity for the production of bananas (a tropical fruit) as well as cherries (which require a cold winter). In addition there is poultry as well as ostrich meat, wine and dry fruit, all the grain types, red meat and dairy products, and fresh potatoes throughout the year. In recent years vast stretches of land have been studied and improved to create new tourist destinations.

Two factors contribute to the attractiveness of a tourism region:

  1. The primary features (software) – climate, ecology, cultural attractions, traditional architecture, land forms;
  2. The secondary destination features (hardware) – the developments introduced specifically for tourists such as hotels, catering, transport, activities and amusements.


Attractions on a farm could include:

  • Bed and Breakfast, self-catering accommodation
  • Game viewing, hunting, bird watching, hiking, biking, 4 x 4 routes, fly fishing, boating, horse riding and many more
  • Rounding up cattle, mustering sheep, dipping, dosing, inoculating, shearing
  • Ploughing, planting, cultivating, harvesting
  • Products for sale (cheese, essential oils, ostrich feathers, meat etc)
  • Farmstays offer a nature-based tourism experience in an exclusive environment.


What can you offer in terms of arts and crafts, adventure, cultural, historic, agricultural, environmental, etc? Do some market research:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What are they offering and at what price?


The next tasks for research are:

  • Determine who your target customers are, demographically and psychographically
  • How many of them are likely to visit you?
  • How often are they likely to visit you?
  • What would they like to experience?
  • How best do you reach them – cost effectively?


Consider the advantages of clustering:

  • There are huge advantages for marketing farmstays in South Africa if only farms in an area would co-operate in order to compete by forming an agritourism cluster.
  • This would facilitate developing a strong brand identity, corporate communications strategy, theme route and package tours e.g. wine route.
  • Independent farms may be successful in attracting independent travelers via a good interactive website, but generally tour operators prefer a cluster of attractions and accommodation for group tours.


Examples of clusters:

  • Thomas River Conservancy where nine farms clustered to form a 31 000 hectare conservancy built around the theme of the old railway village of Thomas River.
  • Kouga Canyons Conservancy – 35 farms clustered to form an historic conservation corridor linking the Baviaanskloof mega-reserve through the Kouga Mountains to Tsitsikamma and recreating an ancient wildlife migration route cut off by farming 250 years ago.


See the page on conservancies for more examples and ideas.

Consider theme routes. In many parts of the world tourist routes have opened up new areas for exploration that have previously been bypassed by mainstream traffic travelling on national highways from one destination to another.

Tourist routes comprise:

  • Gateways and Entry Points
  • Staging Posts
  • Destinations
  • Distribution Points


Consider signing concepts:

  • Normal Tourism Advance Turn Signs – Turn Off, In/Onto Tourism Route / Area.
  • “Welcome” Signs – Entry Points.
  • Confirmation Signs – Leaving a Town.
  • Tourist Route Marker Signs.
  • Information Points – Strategic Road Junctions


Overall, the requirements for an agritourism route include:

  • Birth of a new agritourism destination
  • Tourism audit and analysis
  • Strategy development
  • Branding exercise based on International Best Practice
  • Development of theme routes
  • Electronic supported marketing/web page
  • Capacity building
  • Community involvement
  • Strategy follows structure


Source: Peter Myles, Tourism Specialist

Use your advantages

Consider what unique advantage you can offer visitors. A beautiful view? Something of historical interest? An exceptional dining experience? The chance to experience some aspect of a working farm? A unique natural sighting or experience?

Jan and Riette Griesel from Springfontein in the Free State run a highly successful, award-winning B&B. One of their attractions is a very scarce bird identified a few years ago in the region, the Kimberley pipit. Many people have visited the B&B just to try to catch a glimpse of this bird. This is a good example of how a B&B can become successful by promoting its unique advantages (see

In addition, each farming district has its own local history and recreational activities. Mention these in your marketing strategy. Guests are always on the lookout for a B&B that gives them the authentic flavour of the region.

Source: Greg Miles, writing in Farmer’s Weekly, 30 March 2015

Agritourism Africa. 2020, November 27. "How to develop an Agritourism Route in your region".

Further reference:


Find other websites, publication and articles under the last heading on this page.

Some farm and eco-tourism examples

  • Adem Guest Farm has a 4 Star rating obtained at the South African Tourism Council, and is also affiliated with the AA. It offers exclusive accommodation and conference facilities. See
  • Situated 40 minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean, nestled in the “wild beauty of the West Coast, is the rooibos farm African Dawn. The Cedarberg area offers “fascinating rock sculptures, San rock paintings and dazzling wild flower Spring-spectacle”. Visit fascinating rock sculptures, San rock paintings and dazzling wild flower Spring-spectacle”. Visit
  • The Amatola Wild Trout Flyfishing ( experience is linked to several lodges and farms offering accommodation.
  • Avoca River Cabins near the Addo Elephant Park offers a conference and wedding venue, game drives and riverside chalets. It is based on a citrus farm. Visit
  • Beestekuil holiday farm near Middleburg in the Eastern Cape offers white water rafting, abseiling and overnight hikes among the usual activities (horse riding etc). Trips to Grootfontein Agricultural College, historical Graaff Reinett, fossil sights and bushman paintings are among the area’s attractions. See
  • Blueberry Heights is located in the Magoebaskloof mountains, “a unique land of mountains, lakes and forests”. Pick you own fresh, organic blueberries in season. The farm also has lots of wildlife and beautiful birds to encounter. See
  • Bosheuvel Country Estate runs a Pinzgauer stud cattle; produces craft beer, cheese, furniture and wood products; supplies plants from an indigenous tree nursery, organic compost and cow hides, free range pigs and sheep. This is in addition to a deli, restaurant and lodgings. Visit
  • A dairy farm, Cairnbrogie lies on the country’s scenic Garden Route. It offers forests, coastal cliffs, “secret coves”, tracks and trails, sporting events and a cafe. Take a look at
  • Near Bergville, Cammeldraai farm offers the opportunity for a travel break. A snack or a meal, home made biltong, coffee, jungle gym, trampoline and a view of the Drakensberg mountains. Visit
  • Canettevallei is a wine and lavender farm outside Stellenbosch. The lavender is grown using organic practices and farm fresh lavender products (essential oils, honey, fresh bunches of lavender, lavender rice etc) are offered. Visit
  • A tour around the farm is offered by many farming operations, either for a price or part of other attractions (a curios, products etc). Based in Mpumalanga, Da Gama offers tours through its avocado oil factory. See
  • De Denne is situated on an ostrich farm. Activities include the private tour to view the various aspects of farming with ostriches, including a visit to the incubator room to watch hatching chicks. Accommodation ranges from Deluxe suites to an en suite bedroom. Visit
  • Meerkats are the big attraction at De Zeekoe Guest farm in Oudtshoorn, along with regular farm life and other fauna and flora (162 bird species!). Attractions in the area include the Cango Caves and ostrich farms. See and
  • Elandskloof Trout Farm runs a number of activities that you can learn about at These include adventure camps, fishing, hunting, horse riding.
  • Glen Oakes farm In addition to farm activities, paintball and abseiling are offered. It also serves as a positive when attractions in the district include sea kayaking, paragliding, wine tasting, whale watching etc!
  • – John Moody, former chairperson of the South African Bee Industry Organisation, adds beekeeping and bee products to other agri-tourism activities like birding, horse riding, hiking etc at Honeywood Farm.
  • The Karoo Highlands Route runs through sheep-farming territory, linking several towns like Sutherland, Williston, Beaufort West, Victoria West. Attractions include Khoi and San rock art in the hills, and cycling and hiking trails. Find the guest farms and lodges at
  • Karoo Pred-a-tours and Karoo Cat Research centre offer a farm stay with a difference: viewing and learning about nature’s small cats, caracal, serval, African wild cat and the black-footed cat. Bushman art, bird watching and other activities are also offered. Accommodation is offered on a B&B, self or fully catered basis. See
  • The Klein River Cheese Farm offers artisan cheese, picnics and the experience of the Trees for Tourism rehabilitation site, “a dedicated project to restore one of the few remaining riparian forests on the Klein River”. Read more at
  • Marlu Guest Farm Stay “is the ideal family farm stay destination, also ideally suited for father and son weekends as well as team building excursions for businesses and schools”. See
  • Koelfontein is part of the Waboomsberg Conservancy which aims to protect a valuable ecosystem. It has also been recognised as a Conservation Champion by the WWF for the work done in preserving the virgin indigenous fynbos. It is a dried fruit, fresh fruit, wine and beef farm offering accommodation. Visit
  • Norspoort has “three converging plant biomes include Cycads, Euphorbias and Haworthias and is host to a wide variety of Karoo bird species”. It is an Angora goat and cattle farm, and offers transqullity and self-catering. See
  • Otters’ Haunt offers several cottages and activities like rafting on the Vaal, mountain biking and trails on their farm, 2km from Parys. Read more
  • Ratho Bush Camp and Rakwena Crocodile Farm feature accommodation and, well, crocodiles,
  • Red Baron Tomatoes run farm visits. Find the “Farm tours” option at Week day tours, lasting between two and three hours, are conducted for groups of up to 35 school children.
  • Read about the Rooibos Route – activities and accommodation – at Also see under the “tourism routes” option at
  • The Nicholsons developed a range of activities for school groups on their farm near Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal. Obstacle courses, group dynamic exercises and leadership development programmes are included. Read about the Roselands Outdoor Adventure Centre at 
  • Earthrise Mountain Lodge at Rustler’s Valley, owned by Naledi Farmers’ Co-operative offers accommodation, hiking, conference facilities and work has begun on other attractions. See and read our blogs on Rustler’s.
  • Accommodation at Summerplace Farm Stay ranges from the luxurious Summerview to The Shed (don’t let the name fool you: it’s also classy!) A swimming-pool, braais, a network of trails (hike or bike) … see
  • Thaba Manzi Ranch has various livestock operations: dairy, Nguni cattle, sheep, game and European wild boar. Rock climbing, swimming, hikes, mountain biking etc are activities offered. See
  • On the sunny northern slopes of the Amatola mountain range, 19 farmers have made over 31 000 hectares of beautiful farmland available for conservation and recreation. Fishing, birding, farm holidays, weddings, a restaurant are all among the offerings. Visit the Thomas River Conservancy website at
  • Tierhoek Organic Farm offers “private pools, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and complete privacy”. Farm life includes donkeys, sheep, pigs and chickens. The area offers wineries, boat trips, game drives, art galleries etc. See
  • Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij offers accommodation, guided tours (an hour and fifteen minutes) into the art of cheesemaking, picnics, walks etc. Visit
  • The main attraction on Vlakbult Guest Farm is the essential oils tour. Accommodation (wedding facilities), rock art, mountain climbing, fishing are also offered. Visit and
  • Welgelegen Cherry Estate is situated in the Eastern Free State, 40 km from Clarens, lying in the picturesque Witteberg mountains and overlooking the Maluti mountains. Read more at


Find the many farms offering accommodation at and

National strategy and government contact

The Tourism Act, 2014 (Act 3 of 2014) provides for the development and promotion of sustainable tourism for the benefit of South Africa, its residents and its visitors. It also provides for the continued existence of the South African Tourism Board (South African Tourism), the establishment of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), and the regulation of the tourist guide profession. According to the Tourism Second Amendment Act, No.70 of 2000, any person who wishes to be involved in the tourist guiding activity must be registered.

Find the B-BBEE Tourism Sector Code at and Also available is the EASY GUIDE for the amended tourism B-BBEE Sector Code.

The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) 2016-2026 is a sector-wide strategy designed to boost the potential contribution of tourism to national development objectives and the aspirations of the country, as envisioned in the National Development Plan (NDP).

Find the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan: COVID-19 Response (August 2020) on In 2023 this was being aligned to the Tourism Master Plan.



Government role players

  • Department of Tourism Find contact details of branches and directorates on the website. Find the Visitor Information Centres in every province by taking the “Knowledge” option on the website.
  • South African Tourism (SAT) is the official tourism marketing body for South Africa. Visit
  • Brand South Africa was established to “create a positive and compelling brand image” for the country. Visit
  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate: Co-operatives and Enterprise Development  Two of the sub-directorates, Business Development and Rural Enterprise Development are relevant.
  • The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) 2016-2026 identifies the following as also playing a “crucial” role to support tourism: (i) the Department of Home Affairs – immigration policies, customs officials at ports of entry; (ii) the securing of a free and safe environment which is a competency of the South African Police Service (SAPS); (iii) the Department of Transport (DoT) – aviation and road infrastructure development; (iv) the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in relation to support for local government/municipalities, (v) and other government departments such as the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture (DSAC), and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).
  • Find the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)’s yearbook, which includes a very useful chapter on tourism at
  • South African National Parks (Sanparks) Major tourist attractions in South Africa include national parks and nature reserves.
  • Statistics South Africa Find the latest Tourism and Migration Report (April 2019) on its website.


Provincial Tourism Authorities


Read about the Tourism Enterprise Support Programme (TEP) at

Agritourism role players

Representative Bodies

Agritourism South Africa and  Agritourism South Africa “was established to promote sustainable Agritourism development in South Africa, by creating an environment in which farmers and farming communities can implement agritourism initiatives with the assistance of the association. This includes:

  1. Promoting authentic farm tourism experiences.
  2. Encouraging farmers and rural communities to collaborate to promote Agritourism and Agritourism routes.
  3. Promoting Agritourism to national and international tourists with the aim of benefiting the farmers and rural communities.
  4. Cultivating a sustainable Agritourism environment through liaison and co-operation with key stakeholders within the business and tourism environment”.

Agritourism Africa is an affiliate of Agritourism South Africa and serves the African continent. Find the link at

Provincial organised agriculture associations are involved as several guest farms are affiliated to these.

National Association of Conservancies and Stewardships of South Africa (NACSSA) See some regional websites: and Conservancy status offers security benefits to farmers, encourages community cooperation and promotes regional tourism (see the page on conservancies on this website). Many conservancies offer self-catering, fully catered or Bed & Breakfast options.


Other Service Providers

Organisers of agricultural/rural tours in South Africa

Find details of the following below: Agri Travel & ToursAgricultural Tours WorldwideCape AgriToursGuttera ToursPlatteland ToursPride Safaris and Africa Borwa Farm Tours, and Specialized Tours.

Several companies organise wine route tours. Find them at


Organisers of overseas tours

There is also the case were you yourself are the tourist. We are all interested in case studies, in seeing how someone else “got it right”. It provides us with ideas on measures we can implement in our own operations. Agricultural tours can be a valuable platform for agriculturalists to share knowledge and farming methods.

General tourism role players

Role players


Note: Click to expand the headings below. To get a free listing like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order here. Disclaimer: The role-player listings are not vetted by this website.

Specialized Tours – Organiser of agricultural/rural tours in South Africa
Cape AgriTours – Organiser of agricultural/rural tours in South Africa
Pride Safaris – Organiser of agricultural/rural tours in South Africa
Agri Travel & Tours – Organiser of agricultural/rural tours in South Africa
SA Agri Academy – Training and coaching on adding a hospitality value chain to farming activities
Agritourism South Africa – Agritourism South Africa “was established to promote sustainable Agritourism development in South Africa, by creating an environment in which farmers and farming communities can implement agritourism initiatives with the assistance of the association.
Nelson Mandela University (NMU) – Diploma in tourism management. A second option relevant to our tourism page is the NMU Agricultural Management course which equips the graduate for a career in agritourism. See

Included in the advice from Business Partners:


  • Offer “authentic local experiences rather than passive sights and mere places to stay”.
  • Tap into “ethical” or “responsible” tourism. “The modern tourist is much more aware of the socio-economic and environmental impact of their travels, and increasingly tourism businesses can make their clients feel good by showing them how their spending empowers communities and socio-economic causes.”
  • Wi-fi connectivity for tourism clients is no longer a nice-to-have, it is an essential part of tourism services.
  • Read about the Department of Tourism’s incentive programmes and support given to SMMEs at This includes the The Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) which through grant funding assists private-sector tourism enterprises in reducing the cost of investing in energy and water-efficient solutions.
  • Various Government departments (such as the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the provincial tourism departments) have funding available for small or start-up businesses.
  • Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Tourism SBU (Tourism Sectoral Focus) The Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) supports the Tourism Department’s goal of sustainable and inclusive tourism development.
  • Some funds by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) cover tourism e.g. the Rural and Community Development Fund, the Strategic Projects Fund and the Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF). Details can be read at
  • Safari & Tourism Insurance Brokers (SATIB)
  • Vumelana Advisory Fund Read about the various tourist projects on the website

Websites and publications

Visit the websites mentioned earlier on this page.

  • Van Zyl, C.C. 2019. The size and scope of agri-tourism in South Africa. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree Master of Commerce in  Tourism Management at the North-West University. Available at
  • Find the presentation “Sustainable Agritourism in South Africa” by Agritourism South Africa at
  • Tourism in South Africa (Third Edition) by Marthinus Jordaan (Editor) is a comprehensive reference guide on the tourism industry and includes a whole chapter on farm holidays. It is also available as a DVD. Take the “Tourism” option at
  • Saayman, M (ed.). 2009. Ecotourism: getting back to basics. Potchefstroom: Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies, North-West University.
  • Adventures with Nature has several books related to tourism, or that a tourist to South Africa would enjoy reading. Visit
  • – read about possible birding routes.
  • South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) assists members with publications like Tips To Ensure That Your Business Will SucceedDeveloping An Accommodation EstablishmentDeveloping An AttractionHow Do I Register The Business Legally, And Why Should This Be Done?How Do I Register A Domain Or Website Name? Contact SATSA at 011 886 9996.
  • Africa’s Travel
  • Read about the annual Lilizela Tourism Awards at



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