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Agritourism Development in Southwest Michigan: Assessment of Agritourists and Operators’ Motivations

Authors: Esther Akoto Amoako*, Western Michigan University Department of Geography, Lucius F Hallett, Western Michigan University Department of Geography, Nicholas L Padilla, Western Michigan University Depatment of Geography, Li Yang, Western Michigan University Department of Geography
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Agritourism, development, motivation, agritourist, agritourism operator, Southwest Michigan
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

National agricultural statistics reveal 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 research aims to examine 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. The online and in-person surveys and unstructured interviews were conducted from May to September 2019. While the qualitative study of operators' motivations indicated economic and social factors as the main reason for agritourism diversification, quantitative analysis involving the principal component factor analysis revealed three categories of agritourists motivations. The study also identifies the main generating tourists’ markets for Southwest Michigan agritourism as local with a considerable number of regional visitors from Chicago and suggests ways of attracting more regional tourists from the Great Lakes States. The development of agritourism is also facing several challenges and support is needed from relevant institutions to sustain the industry.

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