Economic Evaluation of Agricultural Diversification through Agritourism for the Intermountain West
Food tourism has been hailed as a vehicle for regional development that can strengthen local production through backward linkages in tourism supply-chain partnerships (Telfer and Wall, 1996; Renko, Renko and Polonijo, 2010). In rural areas where food production constitutes a large percentage of the economic output, food tourism offers new opportunities to promote and distribute local produce while providing an enhanced visitor experience through the expression of community identity and cultural distinctiveness (Rusher, 2003). Food tourism is important in strengthening a region’s identity, sustaining cultural heritage, easing fears of global food homogenization, supporting a region’s economic and socio-cultural foundation (Everett and Aitchison, 2008), and facilitating support for family farms (Chesky, 2009). Communities that embrace agritourism activities have shown to have an enhanced quality of life due to increased recreational opportunities, diversified economic bases, and retention of farmland (Ollenburg and Buckley 2007). The ultimate policy agenda for uniting food production and tourism are two-fold: to fulfill utility goals that involve the contribution of the farming sector in the overall health of the economy; and enhance equity goals that focus on the provision of satisfactory incomes for rural populations (Pretty, 2002).
This project aims to disseminate best practices in food tourism enterprise development to Extension, Agency, and others working with agricultural producers and agritourism operators through development of a curriculum, web resources, and five workshops to be offered in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. The audience for these workshops includes Extension educators, tribal staff, Department of Agriculture personnel, NRCS employees, county employees, conservation district staff, FSA personnel and other agribusiness and tourism professionals in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. The end goal is that our target audience will then work with producers and agritourism operators to implement food tourism enterprises as a diversification and revenue enhancement strategy.
At the end of the program it is our goal that program participants will have increased knowledge and skills regarding sustainable agriculture, as well as an enhanced ability to effectively deliver knowledge and skills to agricultural producers. The following is an overview of expected program short, medium and long-term outcomes for program participants.
- Understand of economic, political, and environmental benefits of implementing food tourism enterprise
- Understand the basic economics of diversification strategies, especially food tourism markets available to producers in the Intermountain West
- Understand the components of evaluating the economic feasibility of food tourism
- Understand tourist and tourism business purchase behaviors, needs, and motivations in relation to purchasing local foods
- Create plan to introduce seminar curriculum and other SARE resources into producer programming
- Work one-on-one with producers/agritoursm operators to evaluate the economic feasibility of food tourism for their operation
- Assist producers/agritourism operators in developing a marketing plan that supports tourism promotional messages and strategies
- Assist producers/agritoursm operators in implementing food tourism strategies for their operation
- Assist producers/agritoursm operators in accessing food tourism networks and distribution channels
- Assist producers/agritoursm operators with the measurement of changes in profitability and economic sustainability of their food tourism diversification strategies
- Workshop and curriculum outline completed February 2014.
- Focus groups conducted in Las Vegas, NV (April 2014) and Salt Lake City, UT (February 2014)
- Online survey of small-scale farmers and agritourism operators conducted in April 2014.
- Draft curriculum created (PowerPoints, worksheets, and evaluations) and tested at the Las Vegas workshop held June 2-3, 2014.
- Curriculum will be amended and finalized in the fall of 2014.
- Brochure and press release created and distributed through Extension networks and media in Utah and Nevada May 2014.
- Programming completed in Southern UT/NV with a group of 19 extension educators, producers, agriculture servicers, and NRCS personnel in Las Vegas, NV on June 2-3, 2014.
- A retrospective program evaluation was designed and administered at the workshop.
- The remaining workshops are scheduled for Salt Lake City and Moab, UT and Reno, NV in February 2015 and in Missoula, MT in May 2015.
- June 2014 Workshop Evaluation (Retrospective)
- Producer Interest Survey Results
- June 2014 Workshop Press Release
- June 2014 Workshop Agenda
- June 2014 Workshop Flyer
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Of the 19 participants at the June 2014 workshop in Las Vegas, NV, 16 completed the retrospective workshop evaluation. All (100 percent) of the workshop participants would attend future workshops on agritourism/food tourism and 100 percent would also recommend this workshop to colleagues. On a scale of 1 to 5, the average rating for curriculum content was a 4.8. The average increase in knowledge gained over all curriculum subjects was 70 percent. Detailed tables of the evaluation results have been uploaded below.
George Mason University
Bull Run Hall 201D
10900 University Blvd MS 4E5
Manassas, VA 20110
Office Phone: 7039934260
Utah State University
4835 Old Main
Logan, UT 84322
Office Phone: 4357970444