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Inspiring First World Congress on Agritourism 2018 in South Tyrol

Last week from the 7 to 9th of November 2018 in Bolzano ( Province of Sourth Tyrol-Alto Aldige) was held the first World congress on Agritourism. This congress was organized by the EU research center EURAC in cooperation with many local authorities to exchange on different international initiatives supporting agri-tourism. Alterural attended this event to exchange and present agritourism developped in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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The organizor Eurac was funded in 1992 and working on the greatest challenges and topics of our future : health, energy, well-functionning political and social systems or preserving an intact environment. Researchers and staff are also specialized in the Alpine environment, the Minorities  and Autonomous regions. This includes studies on human-environmental interactions, rural economy and sustainable mobility.

Agri-tourism offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income through on-farm touristic activities in order to help supplementing their low agricultural income. This helps to maintain the viability of active farms and rural communities. The more general understanding of agri-tourism states that these activities support and promote agricultural resources, traditions and culture. The alps with their scenic and transnational dimension are considered as the birth place of agritourism and were for this reason choosen to host the event.

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More than 42 countries' representatives were present in Northern Italy for this Congress. The profile of the participants was diverse gathering local agri-tourism service providers, farmers  from the region, plateform associations, reseachers and university professors specialized in the development of this niche sector. Important delegations from the US, India and the neighbouring countries were attending but also delegations from Georgia, Colombia, Bresil and many other including Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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The congress programm was structured in 4 components:

A - Key note general speeches  were covering: the role and relevance of agritourism and the various forms of agritourism in the world.

Important key messages and facts noted  by Alterural from this general sessions are the following:

1. Tourism activities are a very important tools for small farms to survive. In Italy and

Germany, universities and agronomists are working on developing a multi functional agriculture in Europe as an interesting model for our future.

2. Local and regional markets are the key markets in all the world specially in Asia for agritourism sector.

3. There is a major affective element  and power in agritourism linked to nostalgic emotions and childhood references.

4. South Africa has developped a strong campaign which could be shared by all the participants „We support our farmers“. For this, a very strong commitment from the Governments and the EU is needed.

5. Another important message sent by many participants was  the necessity to keep the identity and authenticity of the offers despite the market pressures and quest for innovations. Create but do not lose your past on the way... All rooms do not need to be the same, all products do not need to be packed the same... All do not need to taste the same... Indian, Colombian and African participants were indeed very much againt the standardization tendancies imposed by the market.

6. The definition of agritourism and terminology issue was raised and debated among the participants but many were putting a stress on the importance of Community tourism as  a collective decision and approach for the territories.

 

B – Many parallell thematic sessions were held and it revealed very difficult to choose among them. However, Alterural attended the following sessions:

1. The enabling environment for agritouritic activities

2. The contribution of agritourism for the future of rural areas

3. Agritourism to boost the future of rural areas

4. The variety of agritourism activities : selected trends and good practices

The experience of Georgia and Franconian Forest region (presented trough a regional development project in a remote Bavarian rural area) were presenting very „similar“  context or methodology and were inspiring for Alterural. A link with their representatives could produce fruitful cooperation in the future.

 Moreover the local Brand „Roter Hahn“ (red Rooster) is a powerful tool for the promotion of this agri-touristic destination  in South Tyrol. It is providing:

-          Classification system and quality labelling (flower symbols)

-          Direct advisory services for upgrading the offers.

-          High collective visibility to the sector

This label was also very inspiring for Alterural. It can serve the current work which is completed in our EU funded project in the wide perphery of Sarajevo. With our local partners we are indeed in the process of creating a logo for our target territory.

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C - Technical study visit: 10 technical visits were organized on active farms offering agritourism. Some were specialized in  cattle breeding and cheese production, Wine or apple production or processing of alpine plants. Many farms have integrated an element of wellness in their offer.

Alterural participated to the visit of a farm Oberhalster mainly dedicated to organic apples and their processing but has as well as medicinal plants production on a small parcel. The farm is ideally situated along a very attractive trekking trails, which is used by more that 1 millions visitors each year. It is combining: 3 appartments, an organic apple production on 2 hectars, a medieval medicinal garden, a farm shop and wellness offer. A wide range of activities are proposed to cover the wishes of their 100 % german guests.

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- A Poster session :

Projects initiators and researchers took the time to present their work on an unformal way. The Agritourism mandala model proposed by South Carolina University from the US was particularly fascinating and the fruit of a 3 months work.

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For more info: http://agritourism.eurac.edu/