Oysters as attractions

Oysters as attractions

Food is an essential tourism attraction, and the coordination of local food production and the services for tourist is emerging very rapidly these years. That is also the case in the French ”Arcachon Basin natural marine park”. The park has the sustainable management, water quality and biodiversity as primary objectives. However, the development of viable fishing communities depend on innovative activities of the locals, and that is also becoming an advantage for small scale tourism.

A documentary report describes the small scale tourism development, for example the Oyster tasting cabin concept: “What we need is to offer true immersion in the authentic maritime world, a complete educational package with boats, cabins and gîtes,” says Hervé Bojon, a fisherman who along with his wife, an oyster farmer, runs an oyster cabin in La Teste de Buch. Oyster cabins are one of the main features and attractions of the Arcachon basin. Each oyster farmer has a cabin in which he stores his equipment, but many are also used for tasting sessions as well as for direct sales. “In-cabin tasting sessions are clearly a good way to promote the product,” says Hervé. “A dozen oysters normally sold for 4.30 euros can make 9.50 euros in the cabin. But this is not enough. We need a more comprehensive approach.” Angelika Hermann and Thierry Beaugendre have already travelled this road. Angelika, an oyster farmer, sells her produce directly at the Toulouse market, but also has a tasting cabin at La Teste. Thierry is an oyster farmer, fisherman and he runs a passenger transport business. Together they have developed a tourist package which combines tasting, education, promotion and awareness: “We welcome groups, not individual tourists,” specifies Angelika. “The tasting session begins with a detailed explanation of oyster farming. This helps people to understand the challenges and the standards of our work. They also hear our message, namely that we must defend traditional oyster farming, which uses oysters born at sea, not in a test tube. The project must ensure that the Arcachon basin remains a breeding site!””

An active partnership has been essential for both the tourism and the food production and for the protective arrangements, according to the report: ”The functioning of the Pays Bassin d’Arcachon – Val de l’Eyre is based on a three-tier system: an operational committee, made up of three elected members representing each inter-municipality; a technical committee, bringing together representatives of the three intercommunal administrations (the Arcachon Basin Mixed Syndicate(SIBA), the Bassin d’Arcachon-Val de l’Eyre Syndicate (SYBARVAL) and the Regional Natural Park of the Landes de Gascogne (PNRLG); and a board, composed of interested parties involved in the implementation of local projects. The Pays principal areas of activity include tourism, culture and urban development. However, it is also carrying out a sustainable development process, through the implementation of local Agenda 21, and a Leader rural development programme, intended to strengthen the links between the coast and the inland areas.”

The learning from this project is that tourism activities are important supplements to food and community initiatives. Hitherto, aquaculture has not been included in tourism initiatives to any substantial extent, but that seems to be changing.

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