Regional Agritourism Accelerator Programme set to diversify agricultural income

CEDA are thrilled to bring the new Regional Agritourism Accelerator Programme to Manawatū and are launching on May 1st 2023, in partnership with AgriTourism New Zealand.

A pilot programme starting in several key regions across Aotearoa, the Accelerator covers all aspects of starting and growing a successful agritourism business with a focus on planning, product development, diversification, marketing, health and safety.
Agritourism can be defined as where agriculture and tourism meet; a diverse range of experiences that provide opportunities for visitors to connect with the land, the people, the animals and the provenance of our food. For farmers, it’s a way to diversify their farm income and increase cash flow.

Founder of Agritourism New Zealand, Marijke Dunselman says there is a misconception around agritourism that it’s just our beloved farm tours and farm stays.
“There are so many ways to add value to farming operations by hosting visitors through a range of activities and accommodation options. There are also opportunities to partner with other businesses to operate a tourism business on your land and share profits,” says Dunselman.

A key priority project recommended for the region that aligns with CEDA’s Destination Management Plan in accordance with agritourism, is in an Agri showcase and food experience initiative, and collaboratively delivering a programme of work such as this one, aims to achieve that. Manawatū is well regarded as an agricultural and farming centre. However, its positioning as a major agritech hub goes largely under the radar with companies not outwardly displaying information on what they are doing. There’s also considerable potential to weave in partnerships with Manawatū iwi and mana whenua, which will be essential for sustainable tourism growth.

CEDA’s Business Development Manager Greg Bignall is optimistic about the programmes’ impact on the region. “The team at CEDA have been working with visitor sector operators in this space for some time, and there have been gaps identified in our supply of experiences, so this is a great chance to look at how we collectively grow our offering and competitiveness in what is a key sector for Manawatū,” says Bignall. Dunselman says we have worked with, trained and coached hundreds of (agri) tourism businesses over the years, so we know that this tailor-made Accelerator programme will offer real value to farmers.

“The programme will help the community to identify opportunities on their farms, and rural operators looking to develop and grow their agritourism business to attract more visitors and create meaningful value,” says Dunselman. Agritourism also includes tourism activities such as farm cottage stays to luxury lodges, from educational tours to multi-day walks, and Manawatū already has some fantastic offerings, including Makoura Lodge, Stewart Dairylands, Ridge Top Farm and more.

Manawatū District Council Mayor Helen Worboys is looking forward to seeing the programmes’ impact here. “Our regions agritourism offering is already strong, through the development of The Country Road programme, however there are gaps to fill which mean opportunities to grab. I’m sure that our rural community will pick this programme up with both hands and run with it.

“There are so many ways to add value to farming operations by hosting visitors through a range of activities and accommodation options, and the potential impact that these have on our wider regional offering is significant – we can really stand out as a genuine agritourism destination,” adds Worboys.
If you’re a farmer, agritourism business owner or operator keen to partner with agritourism operators to set up a tourism experience or package on your farm or someone else’s, then this programme is for you.

The new Regional Agritourism Accelerator Programme starts with a full day in-person workshop, followed by five monthly in-depth webinars. Each regional group will have the opportunity to form an ‘Agritourism Cluster’ and network with other agritourism operators around New Zealand.

The programme is currently planned for the following regional centres, and more will be added soon:

• Monday 1st of May: Taranaki
• Wednesday 3rd of May: Whanganui
• Friday 5th of May: Pukekohe
• Monday 8th of May: Manawatū
• Week of 15th May: West Coast – location(s) tbc
• Wednesday 7th of June: Invercargill

For more information, locations and dates, visit: 

Additional information:
Marijke Dunselman is the founder of Agritourism NZ and one of NZ’s leading tourism marketing consultants and trainers with over 25 years’ experience in (agri) tourism. She has worked with hundreds of tourism operators around New Zealand setting up and growing their businesses. She is also an experienced conference speaker and is the Chair of the Education Committee of the Global Agritourism Network.


For more information, contact:
Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA)
M 021 0458 694