In a Kagoshima’s farm stay, you can enjoy the kind of experiences not available in the city. This includes a variety of adventures set in the richness of bucolic landscapes, such as farming and fishing experiences, beautiful nature and history-focused, experience-centered educational stays. Through simple and warm interactions with local people, we aim to make the host family become like your “second family” and Kagoshima your “second home”.
Our commitment to resolving issues in areas accepting farm stays
Kagoshima’s farm stays began in 2004, with the acceptance of two school’s field trips (360 students) by the NPO Eco Link Association (Dissolved in 2020, our company Liberta Co., Ltd. subsequently took over the business in 2021). Following the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen’s full line system in 2011, about 20,000 junior and senior high school students were accepted at the peak of the farm stay program. We are, however, currently facing a great dilemma in which, despite the growing number of demands from participants wishing to experience farm stays, we find ourselves unable to meet the demand due to the plummeting number of available hosts.
Although the reason for this is partly as a result of the fact that Kagoshima is now having to compete with other regions, and because of the impact of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and COVID-19, the most important factor is the reduced number of participants we are able to accept due to the general “aging” of host families in the last 20 years.
Kagoshima Prefecture is, nevertheless, packed with charm, with a variety of natural settings spanning more than 600 kilometers from north to south, including sea, mountain and river settings that all lend themselves perfectly to outdoor activities, a temperate-climate agricultural and livestock industry, various war heritage sites and a rocket launch site. It is the land that saw the rise of the Meiji Restoration. Liberta Co., Ltd. is committed to creating a new form of Kagoshima farm stay that will help solve these problems, while also allowing people the chance to experience Kagoshima‘s original attractions.
Our focus on solving the following five issues.
1. Optimization of farm stay fee
Liberta Co., Ltd. aims to organize a structure that works to reduce the financial burden on host families and help motivate them to continue hosting farm stays. The company does so by revising and optimizing farm stay fees in accordance with current global trends in areas such as consumption tax increase and globally desired SDGs (sustainable development goals). Obtaining a stable income for the host families leads to the maintenance, increase, and revitalization of the host regions. In order to sustain motivation of the host families, farm stay fee revisions may need to be done and we are carrying out efforts to seek understanding from both schools and travel agencies of any possible increase.
2. Expansion to a new generation of host families.
Currently, most of the host families that have been doing farm stays since the very beginning are now in their mid 70s. With the added prolonged effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, we have seen the number of host families decrease by nearly one half. In order to solve this decrease in numbers, we aim to recruit a younger generation of families (in their 30s and 40s) to host farm stays./In order to solve this decrease in numbers, we are working to introduce a younger generation of families (in their 30s and 40s) to farm stay hosting. We are focusing our efforts on creating a network of host families in their 30s and 40s. We are doing so by disseminating information via SNS and by holding exchange events in order to share, with a wide range of generations and number of potential hosts, the appeal of hosting farm stays.
3. Inbound tourists and international exchange
In Kagoshima Prefecture, even host families who do not hold a lodging business license, when done in compliance with the handling guidelines of the prefectural agricultural, mountain and fishing village life experience learning, can host farm stays without issues, if part of a school trip. In anticipation of the post-COVID tourism recovery and the potential increase of inbound tourists and farm stay requests that it entails, we are concentrating our efforts to promoting tourism in Kagoshima Prefecture by increasing the number of farm stay host families who hold a lodging business license and by encouraging international exchange. In addition, Liberta Co., Ltd., via “Heartland Japan”, is offering the world, hands-on adventure-type experience trips of “Unknown Japan”. Prior to the pandemic, Heartland Japan was attracting annually more than 4,000 out of Prefecture guests. In the future, we aim to create and introduce a world class Kagoshima by offering farm stay experiences via domestic travel agencies, as well as overseas sales distribution channels.
4. Adventure and nature experience
Since 2017, “Heartland Japan” has been enthusiastically encouraging customers to discover the “Off the Beaten Path Destinations” of “Unknow, Unexplored Japan”.
We have gone to great lengths to offer an experience-driven product that differs from the conventional bus tour travel, choosing instead to incorporate elements of adventure travel focused on the natural and historical assets of a given region.
Travelers who prefer this type of adventure tourism, generally have a set of values that favour things “genuine”. They are not looking for cookie-cutter, set-up commercial travel, but have a desire to “experience a true Japan” and demand to “invest their time and money on things that are meaningful to them.” Because farm stays allow for a full immersion into the Japanese way of life, while also creating a meaningful contribution into the local community, they become a perfect match to the customer’s ideals. In addition, just like many overseas farm stays currently offer services that combine adventure experiences such as hiking, kayaking, cycling and fly fishing, it is likely to also become the future trend for farm stays in Japan. Heartland Japan is aiming to be a pioneer in bringing to Kagoshima such new-generation style of farm stays. Such educational trips are not only ideal for students, but they can also become great tools for corporate trips and retreats. Through cross-cultural and outdoor experiences, self-discovery leading to self-growth, and the sharing of hardships as a useful and powerful tool for team building, this experience has the potential to effect positive and meaningful change. “Taking on a challenge and experiencing a sense of accomplishment” are fundamentals of adventure, and the cornerstone of adventure travel, so we strive to put forth pertinent marketing that highlights such key factors as adventurous spirit, self-inquiry, intellectual curiosity, self-transformation, etc.
5. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
With the idea in mind to create a sustainable future we hope will become a reality by 2030, we are contributing to the realization of the following 7 (SDGs), which incidentally are closely related to farm stays. Recently, in Europe and the US, the concept of “sustainability” has been highly emphasized, and an increasing number of customers are being highly intentional in not buying travel products which don’t reflect such considerations. Some of the essential elements stated in the SDGs 2030 Agenda are concepts of “sustainability”, “eco-friendliness”, “responsiveness,” and the ability to generate “local benefits”. Furthermore, there is a need for experiences that are based on new values different from the simple, traditional commercial routes, values such as “passing down the history and culture of the region” and “insuring the legacy of traditional crafts, traditional performing arts, and traditional ways of living.” Our company has taken on the challenge of creating farm stays that are in harmony with the movement, and fulfill the intentions at the core of such social values. We also planning to offer corporate farm stay packages for companies that have an awareness of CSRs and/or are fully aligned with its principles. We aim to help improve the value of these companies by providing corporate programs that meet the SDGs requirements and allow for “nature experiences”, as well as “community contribution activities”. These activities are recorded in videos and related in articles, the information subsequently disseminated through SNS and other affiliated media.
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Destination Partner：Heartland Japan（Japanese）
Your Travel Partner：Heartland Japan（English）