A Profile of Canadian Agritourists and the Benefits they Seek


  • Suzanne Ainley University of Waterloo
  • Bryan Smale University of Waterloo


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

Author Biographies

Suzanne Ainley, University of Waterloo

PhD Candidate in the Department of Recreation and Lesiure Studies, University of Waterloo

Bryan Smale, University of Waterloo

Professor, Associate Dean, Computing and Special Projects in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo