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August 26, 1999
(Forest Resources and Agrifoods)

Agri-tourism - A Growing Industry

Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, today announced the results of a report that studies agri-tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Agri-tourism has been recognized both nationally and internationally," said Minister Aylward. "In March 1998 representatives from across Canada met to form the Canadian Agri-Tourism Network with the goal of making Canada the number one agri-tourism destination in the world. Other provinces are actively developing their agri-tourism industry: PEI has long been involved in farm vacations, Ontario has a Get Out of Town Harvest Day, and Manitoba has something similar called Off The Beaten Path touring guide promoting their agri-tourism operations. Partnering of tourism and agriculture sectors will help create and strengthen rural economies."

With funding from the Canada/Newfoundland Farm Business Management Agreement, the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods contracted D.W. Knight Associates of St. John's to complete "A Study of Agri-Tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador". The study investigated the agri-tourism situation in other provinces and what was done to develop the industry, investigated the current agri-tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, identified agri-tourism opportunities, and made recommendations on maximizing those opportunities.

Agri-tourism is the bringing together of agriculture and tourism when people link their travel with products, services and experiences of agriculture and the food system. Currently, there are two main categories of agri-tourism.

The first includes agri-tourism events such as festivals and fairs which include various farmers' field days, agricultural fairs and festivals across the province which are attended by approximately 64,000 people each year.

The second category is agri-tourism operators which include: u-picks, farm bed and breakfasts, an emu farm tour and farm tours such the Markland Winery at Whitbourne which reports up to 200 visitors a day during peak summer months.

"This report," said Minister Aylward, "provides a valuable starting point for developing the infinite possibilities that exist in the area of agri-tourism. It also illustrates the need for a connection between the various sectors of the industries. The statistics contained within the report hint at the vast amount of revenue that is generated, however, because of the present lack of continuity, the economic indicators are difficult to measure. This is one of the major elements of agri-tourism that must be analyzed to assist in the development of the industry."

"Agri-tourism operators in the province were surveyed," Minister Aylward explained. "They were asked for their views on the past, present and future of agri-tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador. The province's agriculture sector has grown by leaps and bounds over the past number of years. New initiatives such as, dairy goat and sheep farming, and emu farming are of great interest to visitors. There is also potential in the traditional side of agri-tourism involving our established crops such as strawberries, and vegetables, as well as beef, and dairy farming. The most important issue is bringing continuity between agriculture and tourism to provide the best possible experience for visitors. Our department will be working closely with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to assess the results of this study."

"Agri-tourism has been a successful venture in other regions of the country and we are excited about the potential for the industry here in the province," said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation Charles Furey. "The continued growth of agri-tourism will be a great addition to our overall tourism package."

The report made several pertinent recommendations including: education of key players, training for the agri-tourism sector, promotion of agricultural products, and development of standards within the industry. The report also recommends development of a signage system to identify agri-tourism sites, and regulations to ensure public health and safety.

The agri-tourism study is available for release, and copies can be obtained by contacting:

Supervisor of Program and Policy Research
Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods
Farm Business and Evaluation Division
Provincial Agriculture Building
Brookfield Road
P.O. Box 8700, St John's, NF, A1B 4J6
Telephone: (709) 729-5090
Fax: (709) 729-0205

1999 08 26 3:10 p.m.

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