Rural tourism development specialist Martine Btaich explores the rising trend of agricultural tourism, where visitors get to experience the farm first hand and see rural food harvesting and production in process
Travel industry trends have been shifting around the world. Authentic and experiential tourism has gained more attention as travelers are seeking a return to nature, the outdoors, and different leisure opportunities. Travelers have become more concerned about the food they are eating and are looking for healthier produce and fresh air escapades away from an often unhealthy city life. One of those new travel segments to emerge is agritourism.
What is agritourism?
Agritourism is a category of rural tourism combined with agriculture, where travelers visit a farm or any agricultural operation to learn about and participate in farming activities. Agritourism activities are diverse and include farm and orchard visits, fruit and vegetable harvesting, and local produce tasting. They could be school tours to farms, hands-on farm experiences, helping farmers in their activities, milking a cow or feeding animals. Other activities include local produce festivals, accommodation and dining.
Why the interest?
Agritourism is important for rural and farming communities and is an opportunity for farmers to diversify their activity and complement their income. They can sell their products, educate visitors about their business, invest in developing and conserving their business and landscape, and improve their lifestyles.
Agritourism is a fun leisure activity for families, providing an opportunity for visitors to eat fresh, healthy food and learn about farming and about the importance of preserving local agriculture.
One niche of agritourism is wine tourism. It includes grape harvesting, wine tasting and purchasing, learning about wine making, sleeping and eating at vineyard sites. It is the most developed form of agritourism in Lebanon. Wine routes, dining at vineyards, wine festivals and events connected to food fairs and trails and eco-tourism are growing.
When can you experience agritourism in Lebanon?
There are no farm stays in Lebanon yet and maybe no real and in-depth farming experience offered. Currently most farmers haven’t yet engaged seriously in tourism but activities such as harvesting and farm visits are developing.
Lebanon’s climate and landscape diversity allows a great variety of crops and plants to flourish around the year. Most farmers concentrate on farming activities and 50 percent of them don’t have a second income. Venturing into agritourism could counterbalance many risks inherent to the sector that they face every year from infrastructural gaps, to climate change, and weather risks.
Following the emerging demand, many places around the country have started offering cherry picking, almonds in May-July, vegetables in summer, apples, grapes and olives in October. Animal farm visits can be done around the year.
Nour Farra-Haddad’s Eco-Lebanon guidebook lists wineries, farms and trip organizers
Experience Agricultural Tourism
Domaine des Pères Jesuites
08 543102, arcenciel.org, Taanayel, Bekaa
Habbat El Rumman – Sumsum Farm
76 765975, Beino, Akkar
Akoury Organic Farm
03 033209, Raachine, Kessrouan
03 701064, Rachaya
Sheikh Mounir Qadamani
Honey and Debs making
05 550288, Rachaya
Auberge Arz Ehmej
Ehmej can organize apple harvesting and fun outdoor activities for kids. 70 227730
Hadath el Jebbeh Auberge
The auberge can organize seasonal apple picking.
71 680222, hadatheljebbeh.com,
Hadath el Jebbeh
Olive harvesting and production
03 577864, Douma and Bshaali
03 885480, Mar Touma, Akkar
Wine lovers can follow the wine routes in the Bekaa Valley (the biggest) and in Batroun and Jbeil (the second most important route). Other wineries offering visits and wine tasting are in Kessrouane, Metn, Shouf and Jezzine, including private and monastery wineries.
Well-known in the wine-tourism world of Lebanon, Club Grappe offers wine tourism activities.
03 611603, clubgrappe.com
The Women’s Association of Deir El Ahmar
08 320239, Deir El Ahmar
Food Heritage Foundation (FHF)
FHF can facilitate agritourism visits to Ein Zebde (olive and apples), Kherbet Qanafar (tomato, grape and mekti), Saghbine (onion and apple harvest, walking with shepherds), Aitanit (olive picking), Maasser el Shouf (olive, fig and tomato harvest), Mresti, and Khreibe.
71 731437, foodheritage.org