How does agritourism fit into food tourism?

The most frequent misunderstanding or misconception among professionals in our industry is that agritourism and food tourism are interchangeable terms. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Agritourism is a subset of rural tourism, and involves farms, farm activities, and can include farmers' markets. As an activity, agritourism tends to be popular with locals and close-in regional travelers, but it tends to be less attractive to visitors from across countries or across the world.

Very few visitors will pay money to ride a cow or purchase a bunch of rhubarb to take back to their hotel room. Farm tours generally are a more popular activity with children, which is another reason farm visitors tend to be more local and regional (because it is much more expensive to transport a family with children by air than it is by car).

Recently, some visitors have expressed interest in food pedigree (sourcing), composting and animal welfare. These are more food industry issues and have less to do with tourism, although some travelers take their behavior and values with them while traveling. The bottom line is that agriculture has a very limited appeal to long haul visitors, and therefore has limited economic potential.

The food tourism industry, and our Association, respect agriculture, and farmers, and acknowledges that the seeds of cuisine are in agriculture. Rather than focusing on agritourism, a more profitable potential for the agriculture industry is in value-added agricultural products. Look at our wheel of economic development which illustrates how agriculture, agritourism and food tourism (in other words, our entire community) interrelate.

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