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Agritourism–defined in this study as any activity or service provided on a working farm with the purpose of attracting visitors–has grown in popularity due to structural changes affecting farmers and communities across the nation and throughout North Carolina. According to the North Carolina Rural Center, the number of farms in North Carolina has dramatically declined in recent years to just 17% of the total number of farms present in the 1940s. The changing economy, fluctuations in agricultural income, and farmers’ desire to preserve land and resources have pressured North Carolina farmers to examine alternative economic opportunities.
This publication compares a 2004/2005 report and a 2011/2012 report on agritourism in North Carolina. A comparison of the two reports demonstrates that agritourism continues to grow and thrive in North Carolina.
Agritourism, defined as activities offered on working farms and other agricultural settings for entertainment or educational purposes, has been increasing over the last ten years. Despite its growth, there is uncertainty about the benefits that agritourism brings to society, especially to rural communities. Understanding the benefits of agritourism is essential to further develop this recreational activity and to strengthen marketing efforts to attract more visitors to farms. To document perceptions of the socio-cultural, environmental, and economic benefits of agritourism, an online survey was conducted in 2010 among North Carolina agritourism providers (“farmers”) and a non-random panel of current and potential visitors (“residents”).
There is a need for a better understanding of what people mean when they say “agritourism,” so farmers can realize the full economic benefit of this activity. The authors of this publication conducted a study to discover the preferences of farmers, local residents (visitors or potential visitors), and extension faculty in North Carolina and Missouri with regard to labels for and definitions of agritourism, and to determine where common ground lies among these groups.
This factsheet is part of a series developed as a result of the East Coast Agritourism Webinar Series, a partnership between North Carolina State University and Rutgers University. Having an Internet presence is one of the most important marketing strategies for any business.