Upswing from the Pandemics with Government Resources, Leisure Farming Attracts Domestic Tourists

Upswing from the Pandemics with Government Resources, Leisure Farming Attracts Domestic Tourists

Denny Lee(China Productivity Center Agricultural Innovation Department)

The new coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has almost fully blocked the international travel. On the other hand, the well-controlled health situation in Taiwan has made daily life in normal pace. Domestic tourism has been brought under the spotlight. Leisure farming, which has been developed for 20 years, becomes an important element of domestic tourism and has all of a sudden moved to the focus of attention. On all press and web media like Facebook and Instagram, the scenes of the flower fields in Xinshe, green scallion seasons in Sanxing, Ilan and strawberries in Dahu, Miaoli are all deeply rooted in the hearts of people. Visits to leisure farms have become a major domestic travel options.

Upgrading the Sites, Creating More Bright Spots

Despite the growing interest of visiting leisure farms or orchards for farming experience, the development of leisure farming still faces many challenges. A COA-sponsored survey by the Taiwan Agribusiness Management Association on the customer satisfaction of agricultural tourism found that the items of low satisfaction are mainly related to hardware facilities, such as the sanitation and convenience of toilet and parking facilities, and the displayed directories. In response to these findings, COA has exercised various improvement projects on the renovation of related facilities to provide better services to visitors. It is expected that, with the improvement, farms and leisure agricultural areas will provide a better service environment to retain consumers after the pandemic.

Content Change and Innovation, Tourists Never Get Tired

Innovation and changes are always the best key to sustainable operation. In terms of leisure farming, what needs constant changes are the on-site hands-on experience and the bring-home souvenirs. Visitors can come to the farm in different seasons, to enjoy different sceneries and unique experience, and also bring back original souvenirs. This would be enough reason to enhance the emotional attachment to the various leisure farms, and the motivation to come back again and again. To help leisure farming operators in this regard, the COA has organized a series of agricultural experience and souvenir development guidance and incentive programs. Trainees in the workshops are encouraged to identify the unique features of their industries, rural landscapes, cultures to be integrated in the tourist itineraries and high-quality souvenirs. This will provide elevated and innovative programs of "agricultural experience" and "leisure farming souvenirs".

Leisure farming operators (including leisure farm operators, classic farm housewives, ​​and certified tourist farmers) give classes at the workshop on "resource inventory," "competitive market analysis," "target markets and consumers," and "commodity design," "marketing and pricing strategies" and other topics. The workshops are conducted through lectures, case sharing, and demonstration for the participants to identify their current situations in the respective industries, to build up brand concepts, to find market positioning, product development methods and appropriate pricing, etc., in order to highlight the unique characteristics of their own leisure farming products and souvenirs. At the same time, based on the difficulties and challenges encountered during the development of innovative agricultural experience and souvenirs, professional consultants are recommended to provide practical advice, and on-site visits are arranged to assist the operators experience and solve the problems and end up with successful product development.

Among them, Pomelo Garden Ecological Leisure Farm in Pingtung has successfully taken the resource inventory and decided its clear goal of future development on horticultural therapy centered on the forest. Advice was taken from professional consultants to design a series of unique activities such as environmental exploration, plant collection, micro-planting, etc. with the theme of "care for the plants with your heart, and let plants take care of you." Visitors can get close to nature to have in-depth interaction with plants so as to enjoy the effect of healing and stress relief. During the experience, visitors can plant the bonsai "Microhabitat", which they bring home as souvenirs in their company. This hopefully will remind the visitors of the pomelo park and pay repeated visits in the future.

Microhabitat - Pomelo Garden Ecological Leisure Farm

Microhabitat - Pomelo Garden Ecological Leisure Farm

With the Right Mentality, Moving Forward in Full Power

Leisure farming has been developed in Taiwan for 20 years, in quite high homogeneous styles as most farms present similar itineraries and souvenirs. Many farms, however, have taken the chance to review their strategies and examine the local features and developed new itineraries and souvenirs by adopting the suggestions of the consultants so as to create unique experience for the visitors. Looking forward, with the added power for innovation, leisure farming operators should constantly absorb external stimuli to make adjustment and should design experiential products into standardized "scripts", so they are turned into a series of standard services to enhance the service quality and the loyalty of the customers. More importantly, the operators need to position themselves as the tourism service providers, rather than of agricultural product producers. This changed mentality will provide sufficient motivation to continue forward movement. It is through constant sharing with each other that leisure farming operators understand the resources available from the government and make the best use of them, with the hope to strengthen their dynamics for sustainable development and to continue to convey to the people the diverse and profound values ​​of Taiwan’s rural cultures!