Agritourism is a tourism-related experience or product that connects people to agricultural products, people or places through farm visits or stays.

As a farmer, you can diversify and add value to your agricultural business, while maintaining primary production as the principal use of your land. Agritourism businesses range from farm stays, retail and dining to events, tours and education.

Recent changes introduced by the NSW Government have made it easier to engage in agritourism, often without the need to obtain development consent from Council. 

What sorts of farms can engage in agritourism?

If your farm is a ‘’commercial farm’’ you can potentially undertake agritourism. A commercial farm is a farm on which agriculture is undertaken that is on land categorised as ‘’farmland’’, or that is a primary production business for taxation purposes. You can look on your rates notice to see if your land is categorised as farmland.


Council does not keep records of properties that are primary production businesses however you could check with your taxation agent if you are unsure if this applies to you.

While you could earn more income from your agritourism business than your primary production business, particularly during periods of drought or other temporary reasons outside your control, you must continue to have a commercial farm to run your agritourism business and the agritourism activities must be ancillary (secondary) to the farm.


What are the main types of agritourism?

Farm stay accommodation

farm stay accommodation means a building or place—

(a)  on a commercial farm, and

(b)  ancillary to the farm, and

(c)  used to provide temporary accommodation to paying guests of the farm, including in buildings or moveable dwellings.

Farm gate premises

farm gate premises

(a)  means a building or place—

(i)  on a commercial farm, and

(ii)  ancillary to the farm, and

(iii)  used to provide visitors to the farm, on a commercial basis, with agricultural products predominantly from the farm, supplemented by products from other farms in the region, or with services or activities related to the products, including the following—

(A)  processing, packaging and sale of the products, but not the processing of animals,

(B)  the preparation and serving, on a retail basis, of food and drink to people for consumption on the premises, whether or not liquor, take away meals and drinks or entertainment are also provided,

(C)  tastings or workshops,

(D)  the provision of information or education related to the products, and

(b)  includes cellar door premises.

Farm experience premises

farm experience premises means a building or place—

(a)  on a commercial farm, and

(b)  ancillary to the farm, and

(c)  used to provide visitors to the farm, on a commercial basis, with small-scale and low-impact tourist or recreational activities, including the following, but not including motor sports—

(i)  horse riding,

(ii)  farm tours,

(iii)  functions or conferences,

(iv)  farm field days.

Roadside Stall

roadside stall means a place or temporary structure used for the retail sale of agricultural produce or hand crafted goods (or both) produced from the property on which the stall is situated or from an adjacent property.

Note: If development for the purposes of a roadside stall is permitted, the gross floor area must not exceed 9 square meters.


In what rural zones can I undertake different types of agritourism in Bellingen Shire?

There are 3 different types of planning approval pathways potentially available for people looking to establish an agritourism operation.

Exempt development is minor and low-impact development that does not need planning or building approval if it meets specified development standards and general requirements. This is a simple way of starting a small business without any planning or building approvals.

Complying development is straightforward development that usually involves building work. The development must comply with specified development standards and general requirements.

In most cases, a complying development certificate (a combined planning and building approval) can be issued by the council or a registered certifier more quickly than obtaining development consent, however this is contingent upon the proponent ensuring that all relevant information to issue the Certificate is supplied on lodgement.

Development applications are needed if your development does not meet the requirements for exempt and complying development. Council will consider a development application on its merits. It will also consider the requirements under any relevant local environmental plan and development control plan that applies to the development.

The following Table identifies the planning pathway options that are available for agritourism in the main rural zones in Bellingen Shire. 


Is there supporting information to help consider options?

The NSW Government, who were responsible for implementing the reforms, have produced a range of documents to help people navigate the planning system. These documents are available here.

Setting up an agritourism business - A guide to planning approvals

Agritourism Business Support Resources

Frequently asked Questions

Agritourism case studies

 5 things you can do on your farm


Are any other approvals required?

Yes it is possible that other approvals will be required to engage in agritourism from either Council or other agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Examples include;

  • Local Government Act Approval from Council to provide toilet facilities for campers, or other waste disposal systems for guests.
  • Local Government Act approval from Council to install tents, caravans, manufactured homes or moveable dwellings.
  • Bushfire Safety Authority from the NSW Rural Fire Service for Farm Stay Accommodation on bushfire prone land.
  • Food Safety & Food Retailing approvals from Council.

Further information can be obtained from Council or by consulting the  Setting up an agritourism business - A guide to planning approvals document.