A Big Island association is cultivating a new market niche with
growth potential for Western travel agents: The recently formed
Agricultural Tourism Association provides agents with information
about touring the farms, factories and fields of the Big Island.
“With all the changes in the travel industry, we want to give
agents new revenue-making opportunities, creating a win-win
situation for everyone,” said Charlene Cowan, owner of Macadamia
Meadows Farm Bed & Breakfast, and head of the association.
“Agricultural tourism is a great new option.” The association plans
to man a booth at the upcoming ASTA World Congress on Oahu.
Agricultural tourism appeals to travelers who have been to
Hawaii before and think they’ve done it all, Cowan said.
“It’s great for folks looking for a learning or cultural
experience, people who want to come away with an understanding of
the place they just visited,” she said.
“It appeals to clients with a scientific background and to
travelers looking to get back to the earth and a more natural way
of life. Also, guests who come to the Big Island for a conference
may want to tour a farm during their down time.”
Because of its size, the Big Island is particularly ripe for
“The Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service lists a total of
5,500 farms in the state of Hawaii,” Cowan said. “The Big Island
has 3,300 of those farms. If you’re talking agriculture, we’ve got
Farms and attractions on the Big Island provide visitors with a
close-up look at such homegrown goods as Kona coffee, tropical
fruits and flowers, honey, dairy products, livestock,
aqua-culturally grown seafood, cocoa, vanilla beans, macadamia nuts
and wine grapes.
“Year-round, something is always in season,” Cowan said. “After
a day of agricultural experiences, you can lie on a black-sand
beach, visit a volcano or go on a horseback ride through paniolo
(Hawaiian cowboy) country, making for a very full and rich
Cowan is setting a good example of how to turn agriculture into
an appealing tourist attraction. Guests of Cowan’s five-room bed
and breakfast are invited to take a complimentary orchard tour of
her organic macadamia nut farm. Along the way, she chats about such
topics as the origins of macadamias in Hawaii, the latest research
on the nutritional value of the nut and the challenges of macadamia
farming in Hawaii.
“We usually gather some nuts as we go along,” Cowan said. “At
the end of the tour, guests have the fun of shelling and cracking
their nuts fresh from the farm in our 60-pound macadamia nut
husker/sheller machine, or our new smaller hand version. I find
very few guests have ever tasted a macadamia nut fresh from the
Guests who stay at Cowan’s bed and breakfast at least three days
may pick nuts and run them through the machine, after which Cowan
dehydrates and packages them in time for checkout.
Macadamia Meadows Farm Bed & Breakfast is located 45 minutes
from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Four brochures connecting tourism and agriculture are available
from the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board.
Call 808-966-5416. Web site: www.hawaiiagtourism.com.