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Angus Kebbell makes the case for more agri-tourism that features our sustainable agriculture with high-value visitors that allows for a growing trade with a lighter footprint. Farmers will need to develop the core attractions

Angus Kebbell makes the case for more agri-tourism that features our sustainable agriculture with high-value visitors that allows for a growing trade with a lighter footprint. Farmers will need to develop the core attractions

By Angus Kebbell

A lot of our tourism businesses are struggling particularly those that are tailored to international visitors and example might be a bus tour operator or a souvenir shop.

I was recently visiting a town that historically was driven by international visitors, and while I was there I walked into a souvenir shop out of interest one day at about 4:30pm. The lady behind the counter told me that she had sold one pair of $40 gloves for the day and that was it, the rest of the week had been much the same for her business. How much longer can she go on for?

New Zealanders made more than 3 million trips abroad last year (2019) and spent $9 billion in doing so. This number is not insignificant and I would like to think those that have taken international holidays on an annual basis previously are spending that same money here in NZ, although my sense is that kiwis consumption habits will differ from many of our traditional international visitors.

The pandemic has brought significant change and I feel we have a great opportunity to re think our approach to tourism, and if we are looking at sustainability in the Agri sector then we should also be looking at tourism in the same way.


Don’t get me wrong, profitability (financial sustainability) is critical, but ecological sustainability is also very important. I personally believe we need to increase the value of our tourist trade and reduce the volumes of people.

I question the value of a visitor coming to NZ, buying a $2000 van, driving around eating baked beans and defecating on our beaches and in our bush, then flying out is what we need, and is that sustainable? – I don’t think it is. I think all visitors should be charged a bed tax and I would make it significant to deter the defecating backpacker, of course a concession of some sort should be made for short term inbound business trips and our friends in Australia popping over for a long weekend. That would need some fleshing out.

Craig Wilson the Managing Director and primary consultant of Quality Tourism Development, says now is a great time for farmers to be developing tourism services, or exploring various options. He says there are opportunities for farmers to work collectively in their respective areas and collaborating with regional tourism bodies developing innovative ideas and product offerings.

We have a beautiful country and by international standards we are clean, we are green and we are an innovative and aspirational nation. Our farmers have the opportunity to not only remain the backbone of New Zealand but also be a vital part in our tourism industry.

Farmers leveraging off their primary activity can only be good for their businesses, and the environment in which they live and work, but also adds value having visitors understanding the provenance of our food products which feeds into our overall story. It can only be beneficial for New Zealand.

Angus Kebbell is the Producer at Tailwind Media. You can contact him here.

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Angus, for a future podcast, check out Halter. Virtual fencing. Could well solve the slope/waterways/stock exclusion issue in one fell swoop if widely adopted (or given a shove from Gubmint)....great Kiwi innovation here.

Imagine putting them on my 8000 sheep:-(

Perhaps we should stop bagging backpackers. Reality is there are 8000 jobs going in horticulture, viticulture and tourism. ( ) Kiwis are, by and large, uninterested in them. A key reason is that they are seasonal. When apples and viticulture need staff Unis and schools are back, so students are unavailable.
Yes, in the old days students filled a lot of these jobs, however, the industries were much smaller, and in parts not export focused. Today there is exponential growth in both horticulture and viticulture, and for many, especially in Central Otago, it is export focused. Backpackers may not spend a lot (though that could be debated), but they do help NZ to earn export dollars.
I heard today that a 9ha orchard has just been told by their packhouse that there will be no pickers to pick the fruit this season, unless the orchardist can find their own. Said orchardist has always had packhouse pickers, so has no infrastructure for onsite accommodation etc. In the current climate, that will be impossible to do to cover the whole crop, so if the orchardist can find some pickers, they will need to decide to how much of their fruit will be left to rot. I understand they are not the only orchardists in this situation.

I just wondering about this myself after reading that stuff article.
An opportunity for regional tertiary education outfits to align their calendars where there is local seasonal agri work? Obviously many students travel away from home. But it could be a win-win.