Iowa agritourism consumer profile: demographics, preferences, and participation levels

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Nasers, Melissa
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Michael S. Retallick
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Agricultural Education and Studies

The Department of Agricultural Education and Studies was formed in 1989 as a result of the merger of the Department of Agricultural Education with the Department of Agricultural Studies. Its focus includes two these fields: agricultural education leading to teacher-certification or outreach communication; and agricultural studies leading to production agriculture or other agricultural industries.

The Department of Agricultural Education and Studies was formed in 1989 from the merger of the Department of Agricultural Education and the Department of Agricultural Studies.

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Agritourism is becoming increasingly popular across the country as agricultural producers open their farms to guests seeking entertainment or educational activities. This study obtained current information from prospective agritourism visitors to identify service and amenity preferences of consumers and explore the current level of participation in Iowa agritourism operations. Data were gathered through completion of a voluntary questionnaire handed out to a random sample of Iowa consumers, over the age of 18, attending the 2008 Iowa State Fair. The questionnaire data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The information obtained will be used to aid in the continued development of the Iowa agritourism industry.

The results of this study illustrate the following conclusions: 1) a large proportion of Iowans have at least some understanding of agriculture and food production; 2) agritourism and other agriculture-related tourism terms are relatively unfamiliar to Iowans; 3) a large proportion of Iowans have previously participated in agritourism activities; 4) word-of-mouth is the most effective form of advertisement for agritourism activities; 5) Iowans are willing to travel and prefer to participate in agritourism activities in the fall with family and friends; 6) consumer motivation to participate in agritourism activities is influenced by the opportunity to purchase fresh products and support local farmers; 7) consumer-perceived importance of agritourism amenities is placed on a convenient location and on-site restrooms; 8) consumers view the availability of fresh products as highly important; 9) a large proportion of Iowans are interested in purchasing Iowa products, particularly fresh vegetables and fruits.

These findings have implications for the Iowa agritourism industry as Extension educators, state agricultural and economic development organizations, and agritourism owner/operators may use them to develop and organize marketing activities and educational resources based on the prospective agritourism visitor. These results are especially significant to Extension education, as the Extension system often plays the role of collaborator, working with various partners on research, education, and outreach to provide current information to producers. Extension educators should view the agritourism industry as an opportunity for agricultural, community, and economic development within the state and utilize this information in growing and developing the industry.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009