FARMERS are cashing in on the domestic tourism boom and diversifying their income by offering up their property to camping.
The website Hipcamp has seen the number of landowners offering their property up to private campers double in the past 18 months to more than 2000, with the vast majority of them either farms, hobby farms or lifestyle blocks.
The site's registered campers have tripled to more than 150,000, who collectively made 4.2 million searches and spent almost 140,000 nights on a Hipcamp host's property in 2021, a 60 percent increase on the previous year.
Hipcamp spokesman James Jooste said the trend of domestic travel was only going to grow in the coming years, as COVID-related question marks hang over international holidays.
"What we are seeing as a rebound out of COVID is more campers than ever wanting to get away from the city, get away from their screens, get away from their phones, and completely unplug in the outdoors," Mr Jooste said.
On average, Hipcamp hosts make about $10,000 annually, with some making upwards of six figures.
"It depended on how much effort landholders put into their site - could be simple as a nice spot set aside for self-contained camper vans," Mr Jooste said.
Some of the properties on Hipcamp offer unique agritourism exercises, such as buying fresh eggs, livestock feeding, permaculture and organic farming workshops, horse riding, and fruit picking and tasting.
"We find that farmers often make the best tour guides because they know and love their local area, and they're passionate about sharing it," Mr Jooste said.
Agritourism is "an extension of what farmers are already doing", while allowing farmers to continue to be productive and continue to farm the land.
There are no sign up fees for Hipcamp, which covers insurance and a support team for hosts, while taking a commission of each booking.
Lucy Shepherd has used Hipcamp for the past year, with hundreds of people visiting her property near Eungai on the NSW North Coast.
"It's been absolutely awesome, it attracts the right sort of clientele who want to be out in nature," Ms Shepherd said.
Ms Shepherd said her farming friends were "very curious" about the camping side of her operation and she's encouraged others to seriously consider it.
"If someone has an old shears' quarters or something, it's a really good way of diversifying their income by getting a few tourists through," she said.
"Hipcamp takes much of the workload, they deal with the money, booking, cancellations, insurance. That gives you the platform just to be the host
"If someone hasn't run a business before, having someone there to coordinate you and holding your hand is a really good setup."
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The story How farms are cashing in on agritourism by offering private camping first appeared on Farm Online.