Date of Award

4-2020

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Lucius Hallett IV

Second Advisor

Dr. Li Yang

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas L. Padilla

Keywords

Agritourism, development, agritourist, operator, motivation

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

4-30-2022

Abstract

National agricultural statistics show that the number of agritourism farms and the proportion of agritourism related revenues in the United States has steadily increased during the last ten years, especially among small family farms. The recent growth in agritourism is both demand - and supply-driven. However, there are limited studies that explore agritourism motivations from both the visitors' and operators’ perspectives. This study examines what the agritourists' and operators’ motivations are and the challenges facing the industry to provide information for those currently involved and those wanting to include agritourism in their operations. Online and in-person surveys and unstructured interviews were conducted from May to September 2019. A mixed-method involving quantitative and thematic analysis of operators' motivations indicated intrinsic social factors as the primary motivation for agritourism diversification. Quantitative analysis involving the principal component factor analysis revealed three primary categories of agritourists motivations – “agricultural experiences,” “quality of life, adventure and relationships,” and “relaxation.” To relax mentally/enjoy life was identified as the primary motivation of the agritourist. The study also identifies the main generating tourists’ markets for Southwest Michigan agritourism as domestic with a significant number of regional visitors from Illinois. The development of agritourism is also facing several challenges, and support is needed from relevant institutions to sustain the industry.

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