Understanding the agri-tourism opportunity

Bloghead Agritourism

Where did you go for your last holiday?

For many holidaymakers this summer, the answer may well have been a UK farm.

The practice of allowing guests to camp on farming grounds has been around for centuries, however, the idea of commercialising the practice to augment a farm’s primary revenue stream is far more recent. Agri-tourism is becoming big business, fuelled at least in part by Brexit uncertainties and the concerns that traditional farms may struggle to turn a profit should current subsidies be reduced or withdrawn.

Diversification of farms is seen by many as an essential requirement within a post-Brexit world, and tourism is the clear frontrunner, particularly given the huge number of UK holidaymakers now opting for staycations. From self-catering cottages and glamping to wedding receptions and wildlife tours, it seems the only limit to agri-tourism is the imagination of the farm owner, which is why many farmers recognise tourism as a lucrative new source of income.

We’re starting to see more and more, how Agri-tourism is actively extending the longevity of many family-run farms, where younger family members less inclined to take after their forebears now face the more comfortable prospect of learning how to run a diverse, modern hospitality business.

Sustainability and tourism can go hand-in-hand

Scotland has introduced the concept of ‘agri-tourism monitor farms’, agri-tourism businesses designated by the government to share best-practice across the sector as part of its Food Tourism Strategy. The Strategy is not just about boosting visitor numbers to Scottish farms but focuses on educating the public about how food is produced in order to promote broader sustainability efforts.

An experience to remember

Away from conservation efforts, many agri-tourism businesses are carving out a handy niche for themselves within the ‘experience economy’, offering guests the chance to take part in lambing or shearing as part of their stay. One great example is Cotswold Farm Park, run by Countryfile legend Adam Henson, where alongside a restaurant, shop and other modern tourist infrastructure, the farm offers guests ‘Woolly Weekends’ featuring a range of sheep themed activities, and a potato patch where families can dig for potatoes and take home what they’re able to bag.

Handling insurance complexities

In the rush to jump aboard the agri-tourism express, farmers need to be mindful of how their innovations will affect their agricultural vehicle and machinery insurance policies. For example, a tractor being used to drive children around a farming estate is likely to require a different level of cover to a tractor being used by a skilled farm-hand.

Further, some farms are equipping themselves with wide-ranging fleets in order to cater for their agri-tourism expansion, adding specialist commercial vehicles, mowers and in some instances even diggers to complement their standard farming vehicles. These too need to be factored into their insurance considerations – who is using them, where are they driven, how are they being stored?

We’ve invested in a 15-strong agriculture team which specialises in insuring high-value, complex agricultural vehicles and machinery, as well as supporting our broader Leisure and Recreation product for non-farming vehicles – making us an ideal partner for any brokers with farming clients looking to break into the agri-tourism sector.

Ultimately, we understand that farms represent their owner’s livelihood and, as farms continue to diversify, we’re making it our business to get under the skin of the new risks presented by agri-tourism so that we can continue underwriting insurance cover that delivers when it’s most needed.

If you have an Agricultural risk you’d like to discuss, speak to a member of the team today: agriculturequotes@ers.com | 0345 600 2284

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