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The Economic Contributions of Agricultural Tourism in Michigan

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Family farms have long generated income from agricultural tourism including U-picks, wagon rides, corn mazes and petting zoos, but contemporary agricultural tourism reflects much greater sophistication in terms of product variety, services, activities, and marketing. In Michigan, farm operators have moved beyond classic products and activities and the traditional consumer base. New sources of revenue derive from classes on beer, cider, mead and wine making, yarn spinning, perfume/soap-making, farm markets, fishing, educational classes, school tours and hospitality including weddings and on-farm restaurants. This case study of Michigan agricultural tourism reports results from a systematic survey of 154 agritourism operations conducted throughout the state during summer and fall of 2013 with a focus on the economic benefits of the fast-changing sector. This study summarizes tax revenues, sales and employment trends for the farm operations participating in the survey but also quantitatively assesses the contribution of agricultural tourism to Michigan's economy through an extrapolation of the sample to estimate state-wide totals. Results from OLS multivariate regression analysis intended to identify relationships between employment, advertising and scale to gross sales per day are also reported. These analyses show the importance of agricultural tourism to rural and peri-urban places in Michigan and throughout the nation, while raising concerns about a growing division between large and small operators and what this growing gap may mean for the future of the sector.
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THE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTIONS OF AGRICULTURAL
TOURISM IN MICHIGAN*
GREGORY VEECK, LUCIUS HALLETT IV, DEBORAH CHE, and ANN VEECK
Family farms have long generated income from agricultural tourism including U-picks,
wagon rides, corn mazes and petting zoos, but contemporary agricultural tourism
reflects much greater sophistication in terms of product variety, services, activities, and
marketing. In Michigan, farm operators have moved beyond classic products and activi-
ties and the traditional consumer base. New sources of revenue derive from classes on
beer, cider, mead and wine making, yarn spinning, perfume/soap-making, farm markets,
fishing, educational classes, school tours and hospitality including weddings and on-farm
restaurants. This case study of Michigan agricultural tourism reports results from a sys-
tematic survey of 154 agritourism operations conducted throughout the state during
summer and fall of 2013 with a focus on the economic benefits of the fast-changing sec-
tor. This study summarizes tax revenues, sales and employment trends for the farm
operations participating in the survey but also quantitatively assesses the contribution of
agricultural tourism to Michigan’s economy through an extrapolation of the sample to
estimate state-wide totals. Results from OLS multivariate regression analysis intended to
identify relationships between employment, advertising and scale to gross sales per day
are also reported. These analyses show the importance of agricultural tourism to rural
and peri-urban places in Michigan and throughout the nation, while raising concerns
about a growing division between large and small operators and what this growing gap
may mean for the future of the sector. Keywords: Agricultural tourism, Economic
Evaluation, Rural Development, Michigan.
AGRICULTURAL TOURISM AND FAMILY FARMS
Big and small, family farms dominate American agriculture in terms of pro-
duction value, land under cultivation, and absolute numbers (Nelson 2010;
Lowder, Skoet, and Singh 2014). Ninety-seven percent of all U.S. farms are
family owned (Hoppe 2014). Of a total of 2.1million U.S. farms surveyed in
the 2012 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural census,
90 percent self-reported as small family farms with less than $350,000 in sales,
while 75 percent have gross sales below $50,000. Off-farm income then is quite
*Research was supported through a generous MDARD Specialty Crop Block Grant-Farm Bill 2012 (Grant
#791N3200132) with funds originating in the USDA/Agricultural Marketing Service, and additional funding
via Western Michigan University’s Department of Geography Lucia Harrison Endowment Fund. We are
grateful for this support, and also for the considerable efforts of Mr. Karl Schrantz, Ariana Toth, and
especially Cameron Tarnas for building and checking the agritourism mailing list. Jason Glatz and Johnathan
F. Kennedy provided cartographic contributions to this article and the project.
kDR.GREGORY VEECK is a professor of geography at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo,
Michigan 49008-5424; [veeckg@wmich.edu]. DR.L.HALLETT IV is an associate professor of geo-
graphy at the same institution; [lucius.hallett@wmich.edu]. DR.CHE is a lecturer in the School of
Business and Tourism of Southern Cross University, Coolangatta, Queensland 4225, Australia;
[deborah.che@scu.edu.au]. DR.ANN VEECK is a professor of marketing, Kalamazoo, Michigan
49008-5430; [ann.veeck@wmich.edu].
Geographical Review 120
Copyright ©2016 by the American Geographical Society of New York
important and 52.2percent of farm operators reported off-farm work as the
main source of family income (Martin 2009; MacDonald 2013; Hoppe 2014).
Global trade in food and agricultural products has radically altered the farm
sector in all nations, but particularly those for nations, large and small, where
domestic markets are significantly influenced by high shares of agricultural
imports or exports (Mazoyer and Roudart 2006). As farm families adjust their
operations to compete in the post-World Trade Organization (WTO) environ-
ment, scholars argue that farms in most nations are increasingly split or “bifur-
cated” into two distinct groups: large-scale operations increasingly producing
the vast share of land-extensive agricultural commodities such as grain, cotton
and soybeans, and the vast majority of farms that still grow commodities but
also produce a more diverse mix of public and private goods (Coleman, Grant,
and Josling 2004; MacDonald 2013). The middle, in terms of both sales and
farm size, is disappearing (McDonald, Korb, and Hoppe 2013). Smaller farms
once able to remain solvent producing grain, grain/dairy mix, or horticultural
crops for sale to wholesale buyers or cooperatives are facing increasingly com-
petitive markets. As a consequence, many small farms in the U.S. and Canada
now diversify their activities by including direct sales so as to remain solvent
(Knowd 2006; King 2014). So, despite the fact that many studies find profitabil-
ity is often related to farm size or scale (Hoppe, MacDonald, and Korb 2010;
Bowman 2011; Caldwell 2011), the small farm persists and the absolute number
in the U.S. has increased over the past decade (Gregson and Gregson 2004;
Ferdman 2014; USDA 2014; DWELL 2015).
However, the activities that constitute important sources of income for many
farm families have changed dramatically in the past several decades, as small U.S.
farms work to develop and exploit niche markets (Coleman, Grant, and Josling
2004; Bagi and Reeder 2012). From a structural perspective, in response to higher
production costs, shortages of affordable labor, and volatile prices for staple
crops, many small family farms throughout the U.S. survive through the develop-
ment of new production systems and marketing strategies. These new strategies
include specialized production (organic, local-branded, or seasonal crops such as
hops, Christmas trees, pumpkins, and gourds), alternative off/on-farm retail sales
options (farmers’ markets, business-to-business sales in the hospitality sector,
weddings, bed and breakfasts, and cooperatives), and direct selling (community-
supported agriculture and agricultural tourism) (Khanal and Mishra 2006;
Knoud 2006; Youssef 2009; King 2014). Thirty-three thousand farms completing
the 2012 United States Agricultural Census self-reported offering some type of
agricultural-tourism activities to on-farm customers (USDA 2014). Many small
farms that are uncompetitive due to limitations of labor, financial resources, or
scale have turned to agricultural tourism to keep land in agriculture (Mace 2004;
Sharpley and Vass 2006; Bagi and Reeder 2012).
To this end, agricultural tourism represents an increasingly important eco-
nomic strategy. Products and activities continue to include traditional options
2GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
such as U-pick fruit and vegetables, corn/sorghum mazes, haunted houses, pet-
ting zoos, and fish ponds, but now visitors to agricultural-tourism operations
might also brew beer and cider, produce cheese, make soap or organic yarn,
blend perfumes, create chocolates, or bottle wine, with all the ingredients and
training provided on the farm. Taken together, all of these activities represent a
fast-growing and profitable component of the U.S. tourism sector with signifi-
cant horizontal linkages to other tourism-related businesses (Che, Veeck, and
Veeck 2005; Che 2006). Using data from the 2012 Agricultural Resource
Management Survey (ARMS), Bagi found that compared to other farmers,
“agritourism farmers are more likely to have a college degree (45 percent versus
25 percent), use the Internet for business (78 percent versus 64 percent), and
draw on paid management advice (72 percent versus 42 percent)” (2014,1).
Agricultural tourism continues to have commercial, ecological, social, and
cultural impacts, and more information is needed to determine the actual
economic contributions of this industry to government revenues, agricul-
tural-tourism business operators, and their employees (Che 2006). The pur-
pose of this article is to explore and summarize the state of contemporary
agricultural tourism through a case study of Michigan, so as to understand
the economic contributions of these activities. The findings are based on
analyses of a systematic survey of 154 agricultural-tourism operations con-
ducted throughout the state of Michigan during the summer and fall months
of 2013 (Figure 1).
The article has four coming sections. In section two, we explore the types
of products and activities now included under the agricultural tourism
“umbrella” and discuss theoretical issues related to the difficulty of “brand-
ing” agricultural tourism. Section three introduces the research design of the
case study and details the types and relative share of particular activities,
goods, and services that now constitute Michigan’s agricultural-tourism sec-
tor. Section four incorporates a quantitative assessment of the contribution of
agricultural tourism to Michigan’s economy through an extrapolation of our
sample and the use of Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) multivariate regression
analysis. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results and some
of the new challenges and opportunities related to agricultural tourism in
Michigan.
ANEXPANDING DEFINITION OF AGRICULTURAL TOURISM
Identifying a sector-wide term that incorporates all activities and dimensions of
agricultural tourism has proven quite difficult (Barbieri et al., 2015). This lack
of agreement regarding the breadth and depth of agricultural tourism goes
beyond the mere need for an appropriate consensus term. Rather, the different
terms used in legally binding laws and regulations related to agricultural tour-
ism are different for different states. Specifically, what farmers legally call the
services provided by their operations may importantly include or exclude their
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 3
farms from “Right to Farm” legislation, subsidized insurance programs, signage
permits, entrepreneurship classes, extension support programs, association
advertising, health department regulations, and even liability insurance
programs (Bagi and Reader 2012; Barbieri 2013; Rogerson and Rogerson 2014;
Barbieri et al., 2015; Knowd 2015). What to call these activities matters to con-
sumers, but more importantlyin a legal senseto farm operators and those
that manage them.
As more farms across the U.S. offer agricultural-tourism activities and
products, it may be that the most inclusive definition is best. The University of
California Small Farms Program (2011) broadly defines agricultural tourism as
“a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant con-
ducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates supplemental income for
FIG.1—Location of Agricultural Tourism Operations participating in the 2013 Western
Michigan University/MATA survey.
4GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
the owner” (2011). According to Barbieri: “The agriculturalist literature places
agricultural tourism within the farm enterprise diversification grand scheme
as entrepreneurial ventures resulting from the reallocation and recombination
of farm land, labor or capital for the purposes of enhancing farm revenues or
values” (2013,253). This is a useful point of departure, as agricultural-tourism
operations are increasingly branching out into new marketing venuessome
duplicated on- and off-farmwhile providing many new on-farm products
and services as compared to even a decade ago.
The diversity of on-farm activities that are now conventionally incorporated
into definitions of agricultural tourism makes the development of an inclusive
“umbrella” term that could effectively serve as a “brand” very difficult. In an
important new study where 797 farmers and 1,119 residents (actual and
potential customers) of Missouri and North Carolina were asked to evaluate
eight potential terms (agritourism, farm tourism, agricultural tourism, rural
tourism, farm visits, and agritainment) on four dimensions (memorability, dis-
tinctiveness, relevance, and flexibility), Barbieri and colleagues found that a
majority of both operators and customers preferred farm visit, farm tourism,
or agricultural tourism to other options including agritourism, agrotourism
and the despised agritainment (2015). Barbieri and her colleagues caution that
the lack of a single sector-wide consensus term inclusive of all of the activities
that might be associated with agricultural tourism or farm visits “diminishes
marketing effectiveness and hinders stakeholder collaboration” (2015,1).
Presumably, as the sector continues to expand and mature, a consensus
term will emerge. In this article, we opt for agricultural tourism, which we
define as any and all retail enterprise at a working farm conducted for the
enjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owners (University of Cali-
fornia 2011). Regardless of the preferred term, a wealth of literature documents
the growing importance of this sector with respect to small farm economics
throughout North America and Europe (Knowd 2006; Hoppe 2014). Findings
consistently indicate that agricultural tourism is providing the additional
income needed to compensate for the fluctuations in wholesale agricultural
prices and/or allows families to continue farming when farm scale and/or labor
is limited and wholesale sales are insufficient (McGehee and Kim 2004; Barbieri
and Mahoney 2009; Bagi 2014; Newton 2014; Schilling, Attavanich, and Jin
2014).
Beyond income, agricultural tourism opportunities allow families to
maintain a way of life while helping to preserve agricultural land and proxi-
mate natural amenities, such as forests, streams, and wildlife (Sznajder, Przez-
borska, and Scrimgeour 2009; Bagi and Reeder 2012). Further, agricultural
tourism offers many intangible benefits to visitors to the farms, including a
means to connect with the past, an accessible out-of-doors experience, and
memories often shared by multiple generations of family members (Che, Veeck,
and Veeck 2005).
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 5
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
This case study is based on a survey of agricultural-tourism operations in
Michigan conducted from May to November of 2013. The survey was preceded
by qualitative research, consisting of a set of focus groups and a series of inter-
views, to help define the main issues as seen from the perspective of Michigan’s
agricultural-tourism farms. Coordinated by the Michigan Agritourism Associa-
tion (MATA), three focus groups, each consisting of seven to ten specialty crop
agricultural-tourism operators, were convened in Lansing, Traverse City, and
Kalamazoo. In addition, site visits were made to sixteen operations around the
state, resulting in longer, recorded depth interviews. The questionnaire was
informed by results from the focus groups and interviews, combined with a
review of current literature.
The six page survey had four sections: basic information on the firm
(opening/closing dates, hours of operation, inventory of products sold, number
of full-time and part time staff, and advertising costs and venues); Likert-type
scale items on the benefits of respondent operations to customers; Likert-type
scale items related to problems and benefits of direct on-farm sales; and
perceived economic benefits of their agricultural-tourism operations to the
state, the operators of the business, and employees (income, revenues, wages).
Pretests indicated the survey required about thirty minutes to complete. The
questionnaire was designed so that it could be sent via regular mail or the
Internet (via a link to the Qualtrics website) to agricultural tourism farm oper-
ators. Prior to conducting the survey, a statewide address list of agricultural-
tourism operations was developed. Identifying agricultural-tourism operations
is an important challenge for all states, including Michigan. As is the case in
the majority of states, there is no census of agricultural-tourism operations in
Michigan. One estimate by Sandra Hill of the Michigan Department of Agricul-
ture and Rural Development (MDARD) in 2003 placed the number of agricul-
tural-tourism operations in Michigan at approximately 4,000 (Veeck, Che, and
Veeck 2006). Using all of Michigan’s regional Chamber of Commerce websites,
urban “Yellow Page” directories, specialty crop growers’ directories, and other
on-line guides, we ultimately identified 2,974 farms reporting agricultural-tour-
ism activities with active addresses where we could send the survey. Of course,
there are many very small “cash and carry” operations that do not advertise or
choose to list in a directory.
The survey was sent to 2000 “snail mail” addresses and 974 on-line
addresses of agricultural-tourism operations. Respondents were given a choice
as to which format was used and the U.S. Mail version also provided the web
link to the Qualtrics on-line survey. A single incentive, a drawing for an Apple
I-pad or a $500.00 cash option, was offered to encourage participation via a
drawing. Ultimately, a total of 154 usable surveys (162 total) were
returned, resulting in a response rate of 5.44 percent (60 percent paper, 40
percent on-line).
6GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
After data entry, each operation was assigned to one of twelve categories
and descriptive statistics related to sales, employment, and taxes for each group
were calculated. Once this step was completed, extrapolation for statewide esti-
mates for a set of employment and sales variables were calculated based on the
published 2003 MDARD estimate of 4,000 agricultural-tourism operations cited
above. Twelve years later, there are probably many more operations than this
number, but the extrapolations reported in section four of the article are made
using this conservative estimate (Veeck, Che and Veeck 2006).
In addition to the creation of tabular and graphic summaries with
associated univariate statistics for the agricultural-tourism operations that
participated in the survey, OLS multiple linear regression analysis was
conducted to determine the relationship between gross sales per day of opera-
tion and standard econometric variables, such as advertising costs, payroll, days
of operation, and sources of sales (types of products). The goal of this portion
of the research was to identify factors that partially account for firm success as
measured by sales. Several other recent studies have also adopted this identical
approach with the same goal in other locations (Schilling, Attavanich, and Jin
2014; Hung, Ding, and Lin 2015). The standardized dependent variablegross
receipts per day of operationwas created in recognition of the great range in
the number of days of operation across the many types of agricultural-tourism
operations. For example, Christmas-based operations (trees, wreaths,
ornaments, sleigh rides) generate all retail revenue in seventeen to ninety days,
while most farm market destinations operate for seven to twelve months.
Standardizing gross sales per diem allows for comparison across different types
of operations. The independent variables include: mean advertising costs per
day of operation (adjusted per diem for the same reason as above), the percent
of sales from off-farm products (food and non-food items retailed on site, but
not produced by the operators), the number of days open to the public, and
annual wages. In addition, a dummy variable (annual sales above $20,000 =1,
less than $20,000=0) was added to the model to determine the presence or
absence of scale effects on daily revenue.
RESULTS OF ANALYSES
Analysis of the survey underscores both the diversity of agricultural-tourism
activities and the importance of these family operations to Michigan’s rural
and peri-urban economies. Extrapolating the results to 4,000 operations in sim-
ilar proportions with respect to the types of the operations participating in the
survey, results indicate the economic impact of agricultural tourism is signifi-
cant in terms of income, wages, employment, and tax revenues.
DIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL-TOURISM OPERATIONS IN MICHIGAN
Table 1aggregates the 154 operations participating in the survey by major focus,
that is fall harvest, farm markets, and the like. Each farm was placed in one of
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 7
these twelve categories based on qualitative descriptions of their operation and
a list provided by each respondent of the top ten sources of revenue for each
operation. These same categories are used in subsequent analyses as well. For
privacy concerns, a single aquaculture/fishing operation is excluded from analy-
sis. Table 2provides the mean days (out of 365) of operation and related
descriptive statistics for each of the twelve types of operation. Large standard
TABLE 1—TYPES OF FIRMS PARTICIPATING IN THE 2013 WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY/MATA
AGRICULTURAL TOURISM SURVEY
FIRM TYPES NUMBER OF FIRMS PERCENT OF TOTAL
Animal-Related Firms 28 18.4
Berry-Based Firms 74.6
Christmas Focus 63.3
Fall-Harvest Firms 14 9.2
Farm Experience 85.3
Farm Markets 51 33.6
Fishing and Fish 10.7
Honey/MapleBased Firms 85.3
Nurseries 42.6
Orchards 19 11.8
Specialty Crops and Essential Oils 32.0
Vineyards 53.3
Total 154 100.0
Source: Compiled from the 2013 Western Michigan/MATA Agricultural Tourism Survey.
TABLE 2—MEAN DAYS OF OPERATION AND RELATED STATISTICS FOR ELEVEN TYPES OF
AGRICULTURAL-TOURISM OPERATIONS IN MICHIGAN 2013
TYPE OF AGRICULTURAL
TOURISM OPERATION #OF CASES
MEAN NUMBER
OF DAYS
OPEN TO PUBLIC STD.DEV.
MIN.NUMBER
OF DAYS OF
OPERATION
MAX.NUMBER
OF DAYS OF
OPERATION
Animal-Related Firms 28 332 65.90 98 360
Berry-Based Firms 78239.95 36 138
Christmas Focus 6 91 150.33 17 360
Fall-Harvest Firms 14 78 57.41 41 255
Farm Experience 8 233 132.94 61 360
Farm Markets 51 232 97.63 59 360
Honey/MapleBased Firms 8 300 104.82 61 360
Nurseries 4 205 130.24 46 360
Orchards 19 191 89.26 66 360
Specialty Crops/Oils 4 206 144.36 31 360
Vineyards 5 360 0.00 360 360
Total 149 226 121.06 17 360
Source: Compiled from the 2013 Western Michigan/MATA Agricultural Tourism Survey.
8GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
deviations indicate the unique quality of these operations as each farm family
accommodates off-farm work schedules, available capital, and seasonal-product
availability.
Animal-related firms (wool products, weaving, classes, dairy, and [often]
organic meat), honey/maple syrup firms (candle making, royal jelly, candy
classes as well as product sales), and vineyards (wine tasting, tours, winemaking
classes, and wine-related retail) operate year round. The number of animal-
related firms (n=28/154) was greater than we anticipated, but reflects a growing
direct sales trend (organic free-range meat and poultry) also identified in the
U.S. Agricultural Census (USDA 2014). Another striking outcome is the
proportionally large number of farm market and farm-experience operations
that offer a more diverse product base over more “open days” than many other
types in the sample. Farm market/farm-experience operations often combine
on-farm sales of spring, summer, and fall produce with activities such as a
petting “zoo,” hay rides, playgrounds, corn mazes, and cooking classes. The
distinction between the two categories is that farm-experience operations place
greater marketing emphasis than farm market operators on links to educational
opportunities such as hosting school groups and retirement home visitors, usu-
ally with cider, meals, or snacks. Both of these types often report additional
retail sales of products produced or manufactured off-farm such as soaps, can-
dles, syrup, honey, jams, jellies, and souvenirs. Some, but not all, of these off-
farm products reflect horizontal linkages to other local agricultural-tourism
operations. For example, a farm might sell chocolates or honey made at a
nearby operation in exchange for the inclusion of their products at the other
farm. On the other hand, many Christmas-focused operations report the sale
of lights and ornaments made in China and purchased wholesale.
Farm market operations, in contrast to more specialized operations built
around U-pick berries, fall harvest, or Christmas-focused farms, operate for
longer periods and stock a more diverse product base. Even more traditional
agricultural-tourism operations, such as an apple U-pick, offer a far more
diverse set of products and services than in the past. A decade ago, it was com-
mon for such operations to report selling apple pies, tarts, jellies, cider, candied
apples, and donuts for 90 to 100 days (Veeck, Che, and Veeck 2006). At pre-
sent, a similar farm continues to sell all of this, but also markets unpasteurized
juice for home cider makers and cider-making supplies, while offering classes
on cider making and pie/tart baking. On average, an orchard-based agricul-
tural-tourism operation is now open over 200 days despite the brief period that
fruit can actually be picked (Table 1). Similarly, Christmas-focused operations
once open only thirty to forty-five daysare now open for three months,
combining sales of ornaments, stockings, candy, and visits with Santa, with
sales of trees, wreaths, and garlands.
Also notable in tables 1and 2is the presence of operations specializing in
the production and sale of new crops and related activities (hops/brewing
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 9
classes; classes for making sachets, rose oil, perfume, flower arranging, or soap).
One operation selling lavender and offering classes in soap and perfume mak-
ing also reported the operation of a health spa, complete with yoga classes.
Operations are not only open longer and offer more products and activities
than in the past, but many have increasingly “gone hybrid” by also participat-
ing in off-farm farmers’ markets, typically two or three days a week. Beyond
increased revenues, many operators responding to an open-ended question on
sales venues wrote that selling at farmers’ markets and community centers
helped expand their “brand,” which promoted increases in on-farm visits.
Several farm-experience operations reported adding community-supported
agriculture (CSA) on-farm to take advantage of visitors’ familiarity with their
farm as well. Some farm-experience/CSA operations also offered classes in veg-
etable and flower gardening, while selling transplants, home-gardening supplies,
and organic fertilizer (manure). Others offer regular cooking/baking classes or
season-specific special local-sourced meals (Easter dinner, Christmas dinner,
summer-garden harvest) on-site or at a nearby bed-and-breakfast.
THE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTIONS OF AGRICULTURAL TOURISM
Tables 3and 4provide summaries of mean employment, annual taxes paid,
and several employment statistics disaggregated by type of operation. Table 3
reports the information for our actual cases, our sample, and Table 4reports
the statewide estimations derived from our extrapolation. Turning first to
Table 3(estimates for farms participating in the survey), ranges representing 95
percent confidence intervals are provided for six variables (taxes, annual sales,
per diem sales, full-time employees, part-time employees, and unpaid family
members participating in agricultural-tourism activities). Most striking is that
the large ranges (95 percent confidence intervals) reflect significant differences
in these economic indicators from operation to operation due to differences in
both the number of days of operation and the scale of the operationeven
within the same type of operation. Anticipated by William Coleman, Wyn
Grant, and Tim Josling and discussed previously with respect to the farm sec-
tors in most nations, it is very clear that this widening gap between large and
small operations is characteristic of agricultural tourism as well (2004). These
differences can be seen in terms of taxes, annual sales, and employment or even
sales per day of operation (Figure 2and Table 3). Almost one-third (29.5
percent) of farms participating in the survey reported annual sales of less than
$1,000.00. At the other extreme, 38.5percent had sales of over $30,000.00/year,
while 8percent reported sales over $400,000.00. Once again, the middle is
missing. At the extremes, the largest vineyard reported annual sales of almost
$2million, while some small operations sold less than $10.00$20.00 per day of
operation. It might be expected that larger operations have both higher gross
sales and higher per diem sales, but this is not always the case (Figure 3)
(Pearson’s product moment correlation r=.795,p=.0001). For contemporary
10 GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
TABLE 3—ESTIMATED TAX REVENUES,GROSS RECEIPTS AND EMPLOYMENT FOR AGRICULTURAL-TOURISM OPERATIONS PARTICIPATING IN THE WESTERN
MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY/MATA 2013 SURVEY BASED ON 95 PERCENT CONFIDENCE LEVELS
TYPE OF AGRICULTURAL
TOURISM OPERATION
NUMBER
OF FIRMS
BY TYPE
2012 TAXES
PAID ($) RANGE
REPRESENTS
95 PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
ANNUAL SALES
IN 2012 ($)
RANGE
REPRESENTS
95 PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
GROSS SALES
PER DAY
OF OPERATION
IN 2012
($) RANGE
REPRESENTS
THE 95
PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
FULL TIME
STAFF 40+
HOURS/WEEK-95
PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
PART TIME
STAFF,40
HOURS /WEEK
95 PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
UN-PAID
FAMILY
MEMBERS
WORKING
ON-FARM 95
PERCENT
CONFIDENCE
INTERVAL
Animal-related 18 3836,446 15,144195,536 38546 01.51/2413
Berry-Based Firms 601,044 12,591115,075 461,800 1.53.51/29121/2
Christmas Focus 401,166 01,022,028 02,945 022 1/41/215
Fall-Harvest Firms 12 01,701 2,086143,012 02,126 01130 13
Farm- Experience Firms 701,239 030,105 01,329 02.3131/24
Farm Markets 34 02,879 9,482132,957 0726 011212
Honey/Maple Based Firms 702,060 079,672 0254 0 1/21/41/224
Nurseries 313388 053,054 19157 0 1/2013 15
Orchards 12 3,78229,367 45,909326,966 4041753 1.55331 13
Hops/Essenti-al Oils 308,918 041,083 0181 1/210213
Vineyards 4016,675 01,762.570 04,896 032 0144 12
Source: Rounded estimates calculated by authors from the 2013 Western Michigan/MATA Agricultural Tourism Survey
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 11
TABLE 4—EXTRAPOLATED ESTIMATES USING MEANS FOR THE TYPES OF FIRMS FOR STATEWIDE TAX REVENUES,GROSS RECEIPTS AND EMPLOYMENT FOR
AGRITOURISM OPERATIONS IN MICHIGAN IN 2012
TYPE OF AGRITOURISM
OPERATION
SHARE OF SAMPLE
OF 154 FARMS
(PERCENT)
EXTRA-POLATED
ESTIMATE OF
TOTAL 2012
TAXES PAID BY
FARM TYPE ($)
EXTRAPOLATED
ESTIMATE OF
TOTAL ANNUAL
SALES BY
FARM TYPE
IN 2012 ($)
EXTRA-POLATED
ESTIMATE OF
TOTAL GROSS
SALES PER DAY
OF OPERATION
BY FARM
TYPE IN
2012 ($)
EXTRA-POLATED
ESTIMATE OF
FULL TIME
STAFF 40+
HOURS/WEEK
WORKING ON
FARMS (PERSONS)
EXTRA-POLATED
ESTIMATE OF
TOTAL NUMBER
OF PART TIME
STAFF,40
HOURS /WEEK
(PERSONS)
EXTRA-POLATED
ESTIMATE OF
TOTAL UN-PAID
FAMILY MEMBERS
WORKING
ON-FARM
(PERSONS)
Animal-Related Firms 18.4percent $2,510,000 $66,400,000 $186,000 736 1545 1545
Berry-Based Firms 4.6percent $83,000 $9,800,000 $154,000 185 791 202
Christmas Focus 3.3percent $60,000 $36,600,000 $136,000 138 1663 290
Fall-Harvest Firms 9.2percent $378,000 $26,700,000 $390,000 368 5115 736
Farm- Experience Firms 5.3percent $99,000 $5,600,000 $83,000 212 275 402
Farm Markets 33.6percent $1,600,000 $95,700,000 $479,000 1344 1747 1881
Honey/Maple Based Firms 5.3percent $148,000 $7,000,000 $25,000 212 21 636
Nurseries 2.6percent $21,000 $2,400,000 $9,000 104 624 291
Orchards 11.8percent $7,820,000 $88,000,000 $508,000 475 8024 849
Hops/Essential Oils 2.0percent $213,000 $1,200,000 $5,400 80 40 104
Vineyards 3.3percent $820,000 $94,900,000 $263,000 146 8791 79
TOTAL For Michigan in 2012 100 percent $13,760,000 $434,400,000 $2,243,000 4004 28638.4 7018
Source: Rounded estimates calculated by authors from the Western Michigan University/MATA 2013 survey
12 GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
agricultural-tourism operations in Michigan, however, bigger scale (employ-
ment, taxes) is typically better in terms of revenues, a finding further supported
by results of the regression analysis provided below.
Reviewing the data from the surveys presented in Table 3by type of opera-
tion, vineyards/wineries, Christmas-focus firms, and orchards pay the most
taxes, have the highest annual revenues, and employ the most people. However,
assessed using per diem sales, fall harvest and berry-based operations also make
major contributions for the periods they are open and especially with respect
to part-time employment. Farm market operations do not post high numbers
for employment, but their large number (n=51/154) reflects their great signifi-
cance in terms of local employment opportunities throughout the state, espe-
cially for part-time or seasonal employees, many of whom are students.
Many farm owners do not pay themselves a salary, or count their hours in
their budgets. On average, 1.8family members work on the farms in the survey
in some capacity or another, with animal operations, honey/maple syrup, fall
FIG.2—Annual reported gross sales for farm operations participating in the 2013 Western
Michigan University/Michigan Agricultural Tourism Association Survey (n =122 reporting gross
sales).
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 13
harvest, farm markets all employing more than one family member at least part
time at the 95 percent confidence level. Realistically, most of the smaller opera-
tions could not operate without this commitment from family members. In all,
around 7,000 members of Michigan farm families devote part or all of their
time to agricultural tourism (Table 4).
Assuming our estimates of the total number of operations is correct, and
that the relative proportions for each type of operation within the sample
(Table 1) remain constant, an extrapolation of the economic and employment
contributions of the agricultural-tourism sector in Michigan can be calculated.
Certainly, these figures must be taken as estimatesnot factsas the samples
in some categories are small, but the figures do reflect the importance of agri-
cultural tourism to Michigan’s economy and, we believe, offer a useful starting
point while underscoring the need for a larger sample. Table 4extrapolates
survey data to 4,000 operations statewide. These extrapolated estimates, the
first estimates to our knowledge generated for Michigan, are calculated based
on the mean estimate for each of the six indicator variables (annual taxes,
annual sales, sales per day of operation, full-time staff, part-time staff, and
family members participating in agricultural-tourism activities) times the pro-
FIG.3—Annual and per day of Operation Gross sales ($) for 123 Agricultural Tourism
Operations in Michigan.
14 GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
portional share of each of the types of agricultural-tourism firms participating
in the survey and listed in Table 1.
Based on this approach, the taxes paid in 2012 by all agritourism operations
in the state were slightly over $13.7million. Of course, many farms participat-
ing in the survey continue to sell wholesale in addition to agricultural tourism-
related sales of nonfood items so these taxes are not derived solely from agri-
cultural tourism. Still, these funds represent an important contribution to state
revenues, and may justify greater support of agricultural-tourism promotion
and technical support by the MDARD.
Gross sales and gross sales per day provide additional “snapshots” in terms
of the importance of these operations to the state’s economy. Estimates for the
gross value per year of all sales in 2012 are over $434 million, while statewide
gross sales per day of operation are well over $2million (Table 4). Farm mar-
kets account for about 33 percent of all agricultural-tourism operations, so
while revenues at any given market may be modest (Table 3), the large number
of these operations has them essentially tied with vineyards for total annual
gross sales, with orchard-based operations a close third. Farm markets, orch-
ards, and vineyard/wineries account for 64 percent of all agricultural-tourism
annual sates in Michigan.
Turning to employment, based on our extrapolation we estimate that agri-
cultural-tourism operations in Michigan provide approximately 4,000 full-time
annual jobs, exclusive of unpaid family members. Perhaps more surprising is
the fact that agricultural tourism provided work and training to approximately
28,000 part-time employees, many of whom go on to work in other sectors
where the skills learned during time spent on these farms can prove extremely
valuable (Table 4).
DRIVERS OF DAILY SALES AT MICHIGAN AGRICULTURAL-TOURISM OPERATIONS
Finally, as noted in the methods section, an OLS multivariate regression test is
conducted to determine effective predictors of gross revenues per day of opera-
tion. Again, the dependent variable is total reported gross sales adjusted by the
number of days of operation so that all farms could be compared. The inde-
pendent variables included in the model include: mean advertising costs per
day of operation (standardized for the same reason as the dependent variable),
the percent of retail sales from off-farm products, a scale dummy variable
(where 1=annual sales above $20,000, below $20,000 =0), the number of days
open to the public, and the total wages paid annually. The figure of total wages
paid was selected, versus absolute full- and part-time employees, to include
both full-time and part-time seasonal workers. Results for the regression analy-
sis are presented as Table 5. The model is robust (R
2
=.671,F=44.58 p=.0001,
n=121 list-wise). All independent variables are significant at .056 or better.
Collinearity statistics are well below standard thresholds. Several interesting
results emerge from a review of the model.
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 15
First, the two scale-related independent variables (sales >$20,000 dummy
and total annual payroll) rank first and third when the estimates of beta are
standardized (Table 5). Larger operations, with greater than $20,000 in gross
sales annually, have higher daily sales (b=$558.90,t-3.468,p.=.001); firms with
greater than 20K in annual sales can expect $558.0more in mean daily sales.
However, the number of days of operation each year actually has a slight
inverse relationship (b=-1.14,t=-1.931,p=.056) with mean gross sales per day of
operation (Figure 3). It is not that firms make more money by just staying
open for longer seasons, but rather that larger operations, with a greater num-
ber of employees and more advertising, attract more visitors and generate
greater sales. The inverse relationship between daily mean sales and days of
operation probably reflects the intensity of sales surrounding particular holi-
days or short growing seasons as in specialized Christmas tree farms, or straw-
berry and raspberry U-pick operations. In terms of the standardized
coefficients, advertising expenditures per day of operation was second only to
gross value of total payroll in significance (b=10.04,t=3.653,p=.0001) (Table 5).
Scale matters and advertising works. For firms participating in the sample,
every dollar spent in advertising results in an additional $10.04 in sales for
every day of operation. The benefits of a more diverse product mix are also
apparent as every percentage increase in the sale of items not produced on the
farm and purchased wholesale, such as Christmas ornaments or candles results
in an additional $7.95 in mean daily sales (b=7.948,t
=2.493,p=.014). The most
successful operations not only offer a more diverse mix of on-farm produce
and services but those that also offer theme-related inventorypurchased else-
where as compared to products grown or processed on-farmare also more
successful as measured by gross sales per diem.
TABLE 5—REGRESSION RESULTS COMPARING VARIATIONS IN PER DIEM GROSS SALES ($) AND SELECTED
ECONOMIC INDICATORS RELATED TO FIRM OPERATIONS FOR A SAMPLE OF 107 AGRICULTURAL TOURISM
FARMS IN MICHIGAN 2013.
DEPENDENT VARIABLE:GROSS SALES
PER DAY OF OPERATION
BETA
VALUES ST.ERROR
STANDARDIZED
BETA T VALUES SIG.
Dependent variables (constant) 195.1 159.48 1.223 .224
Mean advertising costs/day 10.42.749 .247 3.653 .0001
Percent retail sales from off-farm
products
7.94 3.188 .149 2.493 .014
Scale dummy where annual
sales >$20,000
558.9 161.18 .223 3.468 .001
Number of days each firm is
open/year
.114 .557 .110 .931 .056
Total annual wages .012 .002 .471 6.934 .0001
Adj. R
2
=.671,F=44.58,p=.0001
(n=121) list wise
Source: Calculated by authors from 2013 Western Michigan University/MATA 2013 survey
16 GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
FINAL THOUGHTS
Agricultural tourism is an increasingly important portion of the agriculture and
tourism sectors throughout the United States and North America as small
farms seek to reposition in the post-WTO agricultural economy. In Michigan
alone, annual sales are over $430 million dollars while providing employment
to over 4,000 full-time workers and 28,000 part-time ones. Beyond allowing
these farms to remain solvent, it is important to appreciate the economic
contributions that agricultural-tourism operations make to the rural economies
within which they operate. As the results of this survey of Michigan farms
indicate, the economic impact of agricultural-tourism operations in all their
diversity is great and growing. Catching the wave of the local-food movement,
the “green” foods movement, and the shift away from processed foods, agricul-
tural-tourism operations help sustain many rural areas throughout Michigan,
and indeed the nation, while providing employment, tax revenues, economic
development, and “free” job training. Economically, agricultural-tourism
operations employ a significant number of full- and part-time workers in many
rural areas where jobs are difficult to find. Often overlooked in the agricul-
tural-tourism literature are the contributions these businesses make in training
the workforce in terms of hospitality skills, running a register, or keeping
accounts, while cultivating farming and horticultural expertise.
Local advertising options also clearly benefit as well. The benefits of
advertising on local radio stations and newspapers cuts both ways and savvy
operators not only have an on-line presence but still advertise conventionally
in daily and weekly papers and on local and regional radio and television
stations.
Many of the rural places where agricultural-tourism operations are concen-
trated have experienced out-migration of youth and high unemployment rates.
As results of our survey show, these operations provide full- and part-time jobs
to thousands of residents, while horizontal linkages with other components of
the tourism sector employ many more thousands as well. Of course, it is logical
to assume that most of these wages are spent locally, shoring up rural
economies.
What is also patently clear from our survey results is that as the agricul-
tural-tourism sector matures, there is a growing gap between a limited number
of larger operations open year round with large advertising and promotion
budgets, and smaller operations where agricultural tourism provides a sec-
ondary source of income to one or perhaps two family members during a very
limited portion of the year. Adding to this complexity is the fact that a growing
number of the smaller operations not only welcome on-farm visits, but also
opt to maintain a regular presence at the growing number of farmers’ markets
throughout the state. This growing hybridization presents some important
challenges to statewide agricultural tourism umbrella organizations such as the
Michigan Agritourism Association. As if this divergence in the types of agricul-
MICHIGANS AGRICULTURAL TOURISM 17
tural-tourism operations in Michigan is not enough, the strong and effective
role that specialty crop growers associations play in Michigan means that
farmers are sometimes forced to divide their attention between the state’s
agricultural-tourism association (MATA) and their specific specialty-crop asso-
ciations, cooperatives, or boards. Based on our review of literature from other
states, Michigan is hardly unique in this regard and thus the selection of a
nameof a branding termfor all the activities discussed in this article really
matters, both in terms of recruitment of members to the agricultural-tourism
association, and also in terms of state and county government perceptions.
Our findings, then, have important implications for how agricultural tour-
ism is promoted to state legislatures. This is not “boutique farming” destined
to forever take a back seat to large-scale operations producing corn, beans, and
the like. MATA, however, again finds itself in a difficult position. Setting a pro-
legislative agenda that is important and appropriate while appealing to both
small and large firms is a significant challenge. Large wineries push for legisla-
tion related to out-of-state sales and tax issues related to on-line sales; small
firms seek better state-supported promotional campaigns or relief from
duplicate site inspections from city, county, and state agencies and health
departments.
As the industry matures, common ground for these diverse businesses may
appear more difficult to find given growing differences in scale and the ever
greater range of products and services involved in agricultural-tourism opera-
tions. A farm producing lavender and other essential oils that invites visitors to
learn to make perfume or to practice yoga appears, at first glance, quite
different from a U-cut Christmas tree farm. Certainly, every operation is
uniquethat is part of the appeal of these businesses to the customer base that
has grown increasingly diverse. On the other hand, all agricultural-tourism
operations continue to have common interests related to on-farm liability
insurance, state-led promotional efforts, and proagricultural-tourism legislation
with respect to signage, insurance, liability, health regulations, road improve-
ments, and the like.
The predecessor to Michigan Agritourism Association, the Michigan Farm
Market and Agricultural Tourism Association (MiFMAT), was formed in 2006
to get local officials who proposed restrictive agricultural-tourism ordinances
removed. In 2009, MiFMAT succeeded in getting Generally Accepted
Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) for farm markets included
under Michigan’s Right to Farm Act. However, the farm market GAAMPs only
covered farm markets, while agricultural tourism encompasses many other
value-added activities such as corn mazes, haunted houses, U-picks, fish ponds,
and public events, including weddings, that are often not permitted under local
ordinances and regulations. Given this “patchwork” of regulations, MATA must
work steadily on developing broader state legislation for agricultural tourism as
well as on educating government officials about agricultural tourism and its
18 GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
benefits (Vassano 2010). We believe there are many areas of mutual interests
among these disparate operations, but much more information is needed
including more input from agricultural-tourism operators.
Only very limited information on agricultural tourism was collected for the
first time by the U.S. Agriculture Census in 2012. Standardized regularly
scheduled nationwide surveys are needed as is more support from state farm
extension agencies. Extrapolating data for a small sample is hardly ideal, but in
the absence of more extensive sampling by state and provincial farm extension
agencies, it is a useful first step.
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... Brown and Hershey (2012) showed that it mostly addresses the analysis related to consumer origins, motivations and preferences used to improve own business marketing. Veeck et al. (2016) stated that the amenities and facilities presented wherein the smaller farms once able to remain solvent producing grain, grain/dairy mix, or horticultural crops for sale to wholesale buyers or cooperatives were facing increasingly competitive markets. Similarly, Karampela et al. (2016) expressed that the marketing perspective appeared that there was an agri-tourism demand because islands are categorized by a "cultural capital." ...
... Producers said the added revenue helped them keep their farms viable, but it was also about sharing their lifestyle with other people, and by creating an atmosphere or theme, it allows customers to take away something special from experience. Veeck et al. (2016) argued that many small farms be uncompetitive due to fair or limitations of labor, financial resources, or scale have turned to agricultural tourism to keep land in agriculture. ...
... However, new visitors to agricultural tourism operations might also brew beer and cider, produce cheese, make soap or organic yarn, blend perfumes, create chocolates, or bottle wine, with all the ingredients and training provided on the farm. When taken together, all of these activities represent a fastgrowing and profitable component of the U.S. tourism sector with significant horizontal linkages to other tourism-related businesses (Veeck, et al., 2016). ...
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This investigation ascertained the Environmental Scanning of Accredited Agri-tourism Industry in Negros Occidental. Descriptive research employing a researcher-made questionnaire was used to accomplished study. Face and content validation was done by experts to establish the validity of questionnaire. Pilot test was conducted to determine the reliability of instruments, and the data collected was analyzed using the Cronbach’s alpha test. Considering the vast area of the province, the study had given a clear direction towards the accredited agri-tourism industry in the Province of Negros Occidental to develop best and suitable approaches of its internal and external environmental conditions. From the analysis, list of possible strategies was summarized, and the most suitable and practical alternatives were evaluated and selected to address the challenges that the industry was ultimately facing. A sequential process which efficiently and timely to achieve its goals and objectives were presented accordingly. Further, the result revealed that the Local Government in the province had little attention to the feasible enrichment of the agri-tourism industries to which will considerably affect its prospective growth. The agri-tourism destinations were managed and owned by private individuals. The private business owners have the capacity to invest and finance accreditation. This study was considered effective source for management and operations of the agri-tourism industry in the province. A collaborative effort for both public and private sector were recommended. Keywords: Agri-tourism, Internal Environment, SWOT, External Environment, Strategies (PDF) Assessment of Accredited Agri-Tourism Industry in Negros Occidental. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363535234_Assessment_of_Accredited_Agri-Tourism_Industry_in_Negros_Occidental [accessed Jan 25 2023].
... For example, the number of employees was positively related to profitability for mid-and high-performance farms, but not for lower ones [34]. In order to understand the economic contributions of agritourism in the state of Michigan, USA, Veeck et al. [35] surveyed 154 family farms in 2013. An OLS multivariate regression analysis revealed that farm gross sales per day were positively related to four variables: advertising costs, off-farm products' retail sales, operation scales and total annual wages, while the number of open days was negatively related. ...
... Second, we observed that large agricultural enterprises in the Luh dominated agritourism development; a similar phenomenon was found in Mich [35] and those enterprises could generate income more efficiently than sma operations including family farms and co-op farms. The reason behind this is li that such enterprises attracted more investment from outside investors and t hire more professionally trained staff and invest more in operations with better services. ...
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Full-text available
Recently, agritourism has developed rapidly, and contributed considerably to economic and cultural revitalization in rural regions across the world. However, it cannot achieve long-term sustainable development if the operators are unable to enjoy necessary economic benefits. Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to identify the factors that affect the net income of agritourism entrepreneurs. Most previous studies have focused on regional or national incomes flowing from agritourism. This study surveyed all (1050) potential agritourism operators in the Luhe District, an eastern Chinese county. Seventy-two of them were identified as agritourism operators. A regression analysis with a best subset variable selection method of the surveyed data shows that the average agritourism income of three years is significantly affected by seven variables of twenty investigated. Some of those factors were also reported on by previous studies while others were new indicators. The findings highlight the importance of locality for local tourism governments when making regulations to promote agritourism. Finally, we provide some policy implications to promote agritourism in small areas (e.g., counties) in an early stage of development, especially in emerging developing economies such as rural China and many other Asian countries.
... However, it was soon recognized as an important niche market within, and part of, the closely related concept of rural tourism [6,13]. Many case studies report that agritourism development provides complementary income to small operators [14][15][16], creates jobs and stimulates local development [17,18], and benefits local communities economically, socially, and environmentally [19][20][21][22]. Therefore, it is also largely advocated for not only as an economical tool, but also often as a sustainable development path, especially in rural areas, with different cultural and social contexts worldwide [5,20,[23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]. ...
... In this study, we adopted the definition by the Michigan Legislative P.A. 46 of 2005: "the practice of visiting an agribusiness, horticultural, or agricultural operation, including, but not limited to, a farm, orchard, or winery or a companion animal or livestock show, for the purpose of recreation, education, or active involvement in the operation, other than as a contractor or employee of the operation." [33] This concise definition has also been well-accepted by other literature on Michigan agritourism [14,18,[34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41]. ...
... Another milestone of this stage was that Dr. O'Connor of Michigan State University (MSU) pointed out the opportunity and the significance of establishing an agritourism association in his doctoral dissertation after interactions with agritourism operators. In 2007, Dr. O'Connor seized the opportunity to establish the Michigan Farm Marketing and Agri-Tourism Association [18,33,39]. The association has made a great contribution to Michigan's agritourism development in several aspects. ...
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Agritourism has been widely promoted by governments at many levels, especially in the developed regions of Europe and North America, as a tool to revitalize rural economies and as a sustainable path. Research on agritourism has mainly focused on defining and categorizing agritourism, farmers’ perceptions, tourists’ attitudes, tourism benefits, and marketing. However, little attention has been paid to characterizing the processes and strategies of agritourism development in a relatively large region, for instance, in a state or a province. This article uses the state of Michigan in the Midwest of the USA as a case study, systematically collecting academic publications from several literature databases on agritourism, the state’s regulation and policies on agritourism, the development of agritourism associations, the participation of universities in agritourism related to academic and outreach activities, identifying key and critical developmental events, and reconstructing the historical phases of the agritourism development process. It summarizes the significant characteristics of agritourism’s development in the state of Michigan, the state government’s comprehensive strategy and leadership, the universities’ strong intellectual support, and the consistent involvement of the industrial associations, as well as the interactions of these three parties at the different developmental stages of agritourism. The discussion is set in the wider context of agritourism’s development in the USA. We conclude by presenting the implications and recommendations derived from the agritourism development experience in the state of Michigan. We specifically discuss the relevance of the Michigan experience for agritourism stakeholders in other regions worldwide, especially those that are still in the early stages of agritourism development, such as China.
... The owners/managers of small accommodation businesses in rural areas, in order to increase their income, focus on the development of diversified activities [9,11]. The provision of various activities can boost the growth of rural tourism and all the businesses associated with it [12,13]. Most researchers have focused on the characteristics of the businesses and their owners/managers, the start-up motivations, and even the factors that affect the business performance [2,6,[13][14][15][16][17][18]. ...
... Research on small agritourism farms in Michigan was conducted to determine the success factors. The sales were taken as a measure of success and indicated that the most successful farms provided a thematic catalog in addition to a differential mix of services and products [12]. ...
... Family members are the main employees at these businesses, while seasonal staff is hired during peak periods. The results of this research coincide with those of previous one [10,12,29]. ...
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Small accommodation businesses dominate the rural hospitality industry, producing simple or complex tourist products and services in order to be sustainable and competitive. In this paper , a two-stage data envelopment analysis (DEA) model was applied in a representative sample of 151 small accommodation businesses in non-coastal areas in the region of Central Macedonia in Greece. In the first stage, DEA-bootstrapping is applied to estimate point and interval efficiency ratios of accommodation businesses and identify the benchmark accommodations. The double boot-strapping truncated procedure of Simar and Wilson is implemented in the second stage to investigate the role of five business factors in terms of efficiency. The findings suggest that small accommodation businesses, although they are based in areas where tourist resources abound, are inefficient. Moreover, the results of the truncated regression method showed that the business's size, the operating days, and the variety of activities (simple/complex) affect business's inefficiency. On the contrary, the business's age and their engagement in agriculture or not do not affect business's efficiency. The results are important for rural entrepreneurs and policy makers, and they will also be useful for the adaptation of businesses to increase their efficiency.
... However, many agritourism studies have focused on only one side of the market, neglecting the merits of analyzing the market as a whole. Several researchers have examined only the supply side, analyzing the motivation and factors that affect farmers' decisions to diversify into agritourism (McGehee and Kim, 2004;Bagi and Reeder, 2012;Khanal and Mishra, 2014) or examining the economic benefits and performance of agritourism enterprises (Joo et al., 2013;Barbieri and Mshenga, 2008;Veeck et al., 2016). Another group has addressed demand by identifying and quantifying the effects of different factors that influence visitors' decisions to engage in agritourism (Carpio et al., 2008;Santeramo, 2015). ...
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This paper aims to focus on the concept of agritourism and how its development and promotion can contribute to the achievement of a number of sustainable development objectives, including those related to reducing inequalities, fighting poverty, sustainable consumption and production and ensuring food security.
... However, many agritourism studies have focused on only one side of the market, neglecting the merits of analyzing the market as a whole. Several researchers have examined only the supply side, analyzing the motivation and factors that affect farmers' decisions to diversify into agritourism (McGehee and Kim, 2004;Bagi and Reeder, 2012;Khanal and Mishra, 2014) or examining the economic benefits and performance of agritourism enterprises (Joo et al., 2013;Barbieri and Mshenga, 2008;Veeck et al., 2016). Another group has addressed demand by identifying and quantifying the effects of different factors that influence visitors' decisions to engage in agritourism (Carpio et al., 2008;Santeramo, 2015). ...
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Purpose This paper aims to focus on the concept of agritourism and how its development and promotion can contribute to the achievement of a number of sustainable development objectives, including those related to reducing inequalities, fighting poverty, sustainable consumption and production and ensuring food security. Design/methodology/approach Professionals and experts in the fields of agriculture, aquaculture and tourism were interviewed to better understand the challenges of agritourism and how it could contribute to the achievement of sustainable development objectives in mountainous and arid regions. Findings The results highlight the environmental, economic and social benefits that can be derived from the practice of agritourism and how this can be a distinguishing feature for a country in which conventional tourism is struggling to develop. participation in farm life for various activities is a key element of any agritourism activity. The results also confirmed the various benefits of the practice, both for farmers and tourists and that it contributed directly to the achievement of certain objectives such as poverty alleviation, reduction of inequalities, food security and preservation of water resources. Research limitations/implications This research has certain limitations, the first being the fact that it is a qualitative study and the results cannot be extrapolated; second, it only took into account the point of view of a certain category of people, namely, experts and tourism professionals. Originality/value New elements were also identified, in particular, concerning certain perceived risks related to the practice of agritourism such as bio-piracy or damage to national heritage, as well as the appropriation and use of ancestral practices for commercial purposes by other countries.
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In the context of rural revitalization strategies and humans’ increasing leisure pursuit, leisure agriculture starts to act as a new engine of rural economic growth and industrial upgradation. Unraveling the agri-leisure developmental regularity from a spatial perspective facilitates urban-rural integration and poverty alleviation in rural regions. Given the lack of spatially analyzing agri-leisure (e.g., sightseeing picking orchards) especially at the macro-spatial scale (e.g., the national scale), this study aims to explore the spatiality of leisure agriculture and its fundamental driving mechanisms based on geo-visual (spatially visualizing) analytical tools looking at 20,778 picking orchards in China. Results show that: (1) Picking orchards are distributed in the form of clusters with striking disparity at multiple spatial scales; (2) Five spatial agglomerations are found involving the regions around Beijing and Tianjin, Shandong hinterland, Henan hinterland, the core district of the Yangtze Delta, and the core district of the Pearl River Delta; (3) The driving mechanisms are revealed, and the spatial pattern of picking orchards is found to be largely influenced by morphology, distance to central cities, traffic conditions, economic level, and tourism resources. This study is conducive to optimizing the spatial planning of rural eco-tourism towards sustainable agro-development.
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Previous studies on determinants of agritourism farm performance are inconclusive. Moreover, the key success factors of high and low performance may differ. Differing from previous studies, this study applies quantile regression to identify the determinants of agritourism farm performance in different categories based on Taiwanese agritourism farms census data. The results indicate that large farms perform well for those in the high-performance categories. The quantity and quality of human resources are key success factors for mid- and high-performance farms. Additionally, agritourism business model generally plays a critical role in determining performance.