Farmers Get Into Tourism


29/11/2004 12:00:00 AM
FIGURES show tourism is catching up to agriculture as Northland’s biggest money spinner.Tourism Research Council statistics show the $850 million-a-year pastoral agriculture industry will be a close second to tourism by the end of the decade.

Tourism earnings are estimated to hit $1 billion in 2010 and the industry is expected to provide up to 6000 jobs.

Is this the same sort of logic behind a University of Oxford prediction that in 2156, the fastest time in the Olympic 100m final will be run by a woman?

Maybe, but there is no denying the statistics are pointing to growth in Northland’s tourism industry, and anecdotal evidence suggests more farmers are moving to capitalise on this trend.

Northland Federated Farmers director operations Bill Guest expects an increasing number Northland farmers to become involved in the tourism boom in coming years. He says there were 1900 dairy units 10 years ago, compared with 1250 now.

Bayleys Whangarei marketing agent David Roy says there is definite growth in Northland’s tourism industry, but he isn’t jumping to conclusions.

He says farming, particularly dairy farming, will remain the region’s backbone for some time yet.

“There is a trend there. but that’s being echoed countrywide. Farms close to the urban sprawl are under increasing pressure to subdivide and plenty are being bought by the neighbours.

“Where a farm is well located it could be seen as an option for it to be incorporated into another farm for additional income.

“Tourism is great for the north and we have much to offer, but I still see beef farming, dairy farming and orcharding remaining the mainstays of the rural economy.”

Other than lifestyle subdivisions, farm tourism could include anything from homestays and lodges to nature walks and farm experiences.

Mr Guest says the average age of Northland dairy farmers is around 58-59, so he expects more farms will embrace the tourism idea as these farmers begin to retire.

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