University of Maryland Extension

Agritourism

Agritourism—one of the fastest growing segments of agricultural direct marketing—allows farmers to diversify their core operations and keep farmland in production while preserving scenic vistas and maintaining farming traditions. By providing authentic farm experiences for visitors, agritourism helps educate the public about the importance of agriculture to a community’s economic base, quality of life, history, and culture.

Agritourism refers to enterprises and activities that are conducted on farm sites for the pleasure, education, recreation and enrichment of visitors. Agritourism can take many forms including retail sales, hay rides, corn mazes, pick-your-own operations, and use of woodlands on farms for hunting, hiking, horseback riding, and other activities. There may be educational components including programs for schoolchildren and elderhostel tours, as well as exhibits and demonstrations tailored to specific visitor groups. Farms may combine retail sales and tours with accommodations such as bed and breakfasts and farm-stays. In essence, agritourism is providing educational and authentic agricultural experiences that enhance direct marketing of farm products and improve public support for agriculture.

Agritourism enterprises allow farms to diversify their core operations, add jobs for family members and others, and keep land in production while preserving scenic vistas, maintaining farming traditions, and educating non-farmers about the importance of agriculture to a community’s economic base, quality of life, history and culture. Interest and demand for agricultural products and experiences by visitors and residents is high while price sensitivity is low, thus creating positive conditions for business success.

 In many Northeast states, tourism is the first or second revenue-generating source and agricultural operations are in the top ten. The economic impacts of blending tourism and agriculture have significant potential. In fact, culinary tourism and agritourism accounted for more than 50 percent of group tour operator inquiries at the American Bus Association’s 2007 Annual Conference.

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