SMA Tourism produced the 2023-2030 Destination Management Plan for the NSW Riverina Murray region. This document set a priority to develop and implement an Agritourism, Produce, Food and Drink Product & Experience Development Strategy. SMA Tourism were again engaged to develop this Agritourism Strategy to provide the directions needed to grow a differentiated and competitive agritourism sector.
Most of the leading agritourism regions across Australia and indeed the world have a vastly different agricultural sector to the Riverina Murray. Leading agritourism regions have significant diversity in a relatively small and attractive setting. They have boutique farms that are often building consumer brands. While the Riverina Murray has some pockets of this, the region has predominantly larger land holdings dominated by dry land grazing and commodity cereal-based cropping. Consequently, this Plan proposed a more diverse positioning to the conventional boutique model, based on the region’s four agricultural strengths of:
- Diversity of agricultural product within a relatively small area.
- Large scale irrigation increasing productivity.
- Preparedness to innovate, trial and implement new technology and systems (e.g. monitoring and automation) allowing for improved efficiency and adaptive management).
- Sustainability leadership for some products (eg. efficient use of water by rice growers).
Market testing associated with the development of this Strategic Plan revealed that the two most sought-after elements of an agritourism experience in the region were authenticity and sustainability, followed by making it personal and empowering.
Following the production of an Agritourism focussed Situation Analysis and Options Report, five strategic directions were discussed with stakeholders during consultation workshops. They in turn provided input into each of these, and then voted on which ones they would like to see DRM place the most emphasis on. The five strategic directions, listed in order of this stakeholder importance are:
- Build capacity across the region’s local governments and agritourism sector.
- Focus support for agritourism development and marketing on emerging focus areas.
- Lead the region’s marketing with agritourism and its lead experiences.
- Develop lead agritourism products to reflect the brand and maximise the region’s competitive agritourism offer.
- Develop more differentiated farm-stay accommodation and assist farm stays to become agritourism accommodation.
Action Plans were prepared to support each of these strategic directions over a period of up to 10 years.