Development of rural areas through the application of agro-tourism (Gjirokastra region)
MBA. Robert Çelo, MSc. Lorenc Koçiu
Lecturers, Economic Department, “Eqrem Çabej” University, Gjirokastra, Albania
Farmers are looking beyond traditional farm enterprises to generate income via various forms of direct farm marketing, off-farm income, and farm-based non-agriculture businesses. A form of secondary enterprise that offers much promise in adding value to a growing number of farm operations is agro tourism. Agro tourism is defined as a combination of natural settings and products of agricultural operations combined within a tourism experience. It includes providing tourists with opportunities to experience a broad spectrum of agriculturally based products and services ranging from fruit stand shopping to winery, orchard, from farm based bed and breakfast accommodation to tourist participation in cattle drives.
While agro tourism and other forms of related value added processing are seen by both the farming community and government as diversification options for maintaining business viability in the agricultural sector, the potential advantages associated with developing this industrial sector extend much further. More specifically benefits can be linked to the individual farmer, the local community, and the tourism industry as a whole.
For rural communities and regions, agro tourism can be a vehicle for diversifying and stabilizing rural economies by: creating jobs and increasing community income; providing a broader market base for local businesses; and attracting other businesses and small industries.
Keywords: agro tourism, rural areas, agricultural, business, Gjirokastra.