Categories: HostingUpdates & news

Agritourism Reforms to Make it Easy for Working Farms to Welcome Guests

Tourism and agriculture are the perfect paring, providing new revenue streams for primary producers with a story to tell and land to share.

The New South Wales Government (NSW) has introduced changes to the state’s planning system to give farmers an automatic right to welcome paying guests. The changes are an open invitation to NSW’s 25,000 primary producers to give tourism a go and get a piece of the estimated $18 billion agritourism opportunity. Not only can farmers diversify their income by welcoming guests, but regional communities also stand to benefit as people explore regional towns and spend money along the way.

Farms are a popular choice on Hipcamp. People want to experience life on the farm and rediscover where their food comes from. Norm is a fourth generation dairy farmer on the the NSW south coast near Bega, NSW. Norm talks to us about his Hosting journey, and his inspiration to build a romantic outdoor bathtub inspired by the much-loved Australian TV drama series McLeod’s Daughters.

Hipcamp has brought this old dairy back to life, says Norm about Sapphire Coast Dairy. “Knowing this place is being used and enjoyed brings me so much happiness. I just like sharing it.”

Is agritourism right for me and my land?

Agritourism is a growing sector because tourists are actively seeking new experiences that reconnect them to the land and their food. Offering a farm stay experience, like camping, allows farmers to harness this demand and diversify their income. To help farmers understand, plan and start a farm stay business, we have developed an easy-to-use toolkit, available here.

What is changing?

The NSW Government has introduced a statewide planning policy that adds agritourism as a priority of the state’s planning system. The policy creates an exempt development pathway or automatic right to offer farm stay accommodation, including camping.

While this is an automatic right that doesn’t require council approval there are some eligibility requirements and conditions that need to be met. Councils across NSW are also working to streamline the approval process for agritourism proposals. So, if you don’t meet the requirements for an exempt development or would like to welcome more guests then allowed you can soon apply to do so.

“We’ve overcome bushfires and COVID. I’m pleased to hear about these new regulations”, says Bill from Riverview Farmstay, in Narooma, NSW.

Who is eligible?

There are three key eligibility requirements to welcome guests without council approval:

  1. Farms must be ‘working’, which means the farm is a primary production business for tax purposes (defined by the Australian Tax Office) or categorised as ‘farmland’ by your local council
  2. Must be 15 hectares and larger; and
  3. Must be zoned as Primary Production (RU1), Rural Landscape (RU2) or any other zone where agriculture is permitted

What conditions apply?

The changes also set out basic conditions and requirements for farms welcoming guests, these include:

  • Max 21 consecutive days of stay (per individual)
  • Max 20 guests
  • Max 6 caravans/campervans​
  • Campers, caravans or campervans must be self-contained if no toilet facilities are provided
  • For bushfire prone land, landowners must erect a sign in a prominent position with an evacuation diagram and emergency services contact details​

“I’m a mother of two children, a farmer, caretaker, a mother goose and just a person having a go out on the land.” Benita tells us about her her story at Scared Earth Farm in Pumpenbil, NSW.

How do I get started?

Landowners across Australia are partnering with Hipcamp to earn extra money by connecting their properties with folks looking to go camping. Hipcamp offers landowners the tools they need to start a farm stay or camping business on their land. It’s free to list your land, and our team is ready to help you start your Hosting journey. All you need is an email address and a few photos to get started.

“We’re excited about the new policy that’ll allow more property owners like myself to welcome guests”, says Sue from Mungerarie Farm in Moruya, NSW.

Where do I get further information about the changes?

For more specific information about the changes, including the full list of minimum requirements, please refer to the NSW Department of Planning website (www.planning.nsw.gov.au).

To find out more download the toolkit, visit Hipcamp, email host@hipcamp-land.com or call 0488 855 291.

Brooke is a member of the Hipcamp team based in Moruya, New South Wales, Australia. She’s a lifelong camper who has spent many a night under the stars, and prefers a swag over silk sheets any day. Her favourite campsite is anything close to a river, with nothing much else around (including other people).

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