WV agriculture is currently experiencing dramatic changes. Changes in traditional agriculture combined with changing customer travel patterns (´staycations´; demand for more family time; culinary and heritage tourism niches; and increasing interest in knowing where their food comes from) have led farmers to explore agritourism and farm-based education as an emerging agribusiness opportunity, to help diversify farm income and improve cash flows. WV is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity having the highest family farms/capita in the nation and >20,000 small/part-time operations. However, these family farms face drawbacks to entrepreneurship, limiting their full agritourism potential - remote locations, small farms/limited offerings, and inadequate infrastructure. Additionally, WV agriculture and tourism sectors are fragmented and multifaceted. The challenge is to help develop a model of micro-cluster networks, a new model of agritourism development and cooperation between local actors, to enhance community capacities in agritourism.
This presentation focuses on two useful decision tools to simultaneously foster micro-cluster network development and enhance risk mitigation for agritourism operations: a self-assessment decision matrix that helps determine the likelihood for agritourism success given farm/property and regional characteristics; and a Geographical Information System (GIS) model that maps spatial distribution of agritourism potential based on four location-based criteria. These tools can help agritourism operations and state entities generate risk management and market development strategies to differentiate their place-destination through "localness" and quality, collectively ‘brand’ and market agritourism offerings, improve and standardize staff training and offerings, achieve accumulative and scale economies, and foster a culture/attitude of businesses serving the tourists.
|2015 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference