Agritourism, Diversifying Income through Farm Stays

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Recently the Queensland Farmer’s Federation (QFF) partnered with Airbnb to launch a farm stay platform to capitalise on the booming agritourism sector.

Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Australia Derek Nolan said guests were always looking to explore their own backyard through unique, authentic experiences that immerse them in regional communities.

We spoke with client John Hays, owner of Hells Gate Roadhouse, a cattle farm with roadhouse and accommodation village located 50km from the Queensland/NT border. Originally a fuel stop and roadhouse, Hells Gate has expanded to house a camp ground, powered caravan sites, restaurant and new purpose-built accommodation including 12 ensuite cabins aptly named, ‘Hellton’.

“After what was a terrible 2020 due to the COVID crisis, we’re seeing a bumper year in accommodation with buses coming every 5-6 days”, Hays said.

“The bump in tourism this year has shown that 99% of our guests are new to the area. 90% of recent stays have been guests travelling from the Sunshine Coast.”

Hays said offering accommodation has been a great income stream for the property, with existing cattle operations, ‘Cliffdale Station’ run in unison by division of labour within the team. With much of the construction managed by himself his only challenge has been infrequent deliveries of goods, mostly combatted through ample planning and the installing of a cold room.

“We really have something for everyone. Our experience is so unique, it is nothing like a typical stay at Noosa. Our guests simply don’t want to leave,” he said.  

Hells Gate Roadhouse

Playing to new guests in the higher end of the market, the property plans to increase accommodation with new glamping tents and luxury helicopter experiences in the coming year.

The partnership between QFF and Airbnb demonstrates the potential that Hays and other agritourism operators in Queensland are currently experiencing. With more travellers looking for unique, local experiences, farm stays can diversify farmers’ income and put smaller communities on the map.

Hays’ advice to others looking to offer guest accommodation is to keep it unique.

“Every farm has got a different idea of what will work for them and should offer a stay that plays to their own experience,” he said.  

QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said the partnership was a positive step in raising Queensland’s profile as an agritourism destination in Australia, estimating the sector was worth around $5 billion to the state economy by 2030.

Follow Hells Gate Roadhouse @HellsGateRoadhouse or visit www.hellsgateroadhouse.com.au

To learn more about Queensland farm stays on Airbnb, visit: www.airbnb.com.au/d/thegreataussiefarmstay

Events at Hells Gate

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