A Profile of Canadian Agritourists and the Benefits they Seek

Suzanne Ainley, Bryan Smale


The family farm is being threatened by changes in agriculture and the globalization of our food system. In response, many farms have diversified into tourism. However, farm diversification into tourism is based more on a leap of faith than on solid market research. Using data drawn from the 2006 Canadian Travel Activities and Motivation Survey (TAMS), the current study identified five discrete rural tourism niche market groups, including agritourists (i.e., those whose primary trip purpose was to visit a farm), to determine if their demographic profiles and the benefits they sought were different. The results indicated that agritourists were not notably different from other rural tourism niche markets. The findings question the niche status of agritourism as a viable diversification strategy for struggling farm families. Hence, rather than perpetuating agritourism as a special and distinct niche market, future research should identify and explore appropriate strategies that might help farm families transition out of a predominately agrarian economy into service-based and experience-based economies.

Keywords: agritourism, rural tourism, niche markets, benefits sought

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.