It may be your dream for the public to hayride, pick a Christmas tree, birdwatch or hunt at your place, but improper planning could make it your nightmare, a Texas Cooperative Extension expert said.

“We’ve launched an online service to help people plan and develop nature tourism businesses,” said Miles Phillips, Extension recreation, parks and tourism specialist. “It will help users make a very simple revenue and cost projection for their tourism products.”

Phillips said the tool, located in the business planning section at http://www.rpts.tamu.edu/tce/NT/, could be useful for planning nature tourism venues such as hayrides, corn mazes, bird watching, rural biking and hunting, for example.

“The tool automatically creates graphics of gross income, net income, cash flow, visitation summaries by month or by activity and other necessary information for a business,” he said. “And a great thing about it is, it’s free for anyone who wants to use it.”

He added that a booklet from Extension, “Nature Tourism: Evaluating Enterprise Feasibility,” can be used with the online service. The booklet, B-6147, can be ordered from the Extension bookstore, http://tcebookstore.org for $30.

The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Resource Center through the Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The site is hosted by Watchable Wildlife Inc., a national non-profit organization, Phillips said.

For more information on nature tourism, contact Phillips at 979-845-1023 or e-mail mdphillips@ag.tamu.edu.