Sustaining New England’s iconic tourism landscapes
An exploratory study to examine perceptions of value from farmers and fishermen
Keywords:Tourism, Agritourism, Aquatourism, Public Goods, New England, Maine, Vermont, Lobster, Dairy, Multifunctionality
Tourism generates billions of dollars in New England. Maine and Vermont rely heavily on the iconic imagery of lobstering and dairy farming to attract visitors to their states. The collapse of either industry would not only deal a direct economic and cultural blow to their respective states but be compounded by their impact on the tourism industry. How do these industries work in symbiosis with tourism? From the biological world, symbiosis is the close interaction of two different species in a mutually beneficial or parasitic relationship. To what extent do these primary sector industries benefit from tourism and how might the benefits of tourism be more effectively shared with farmers and fishermen? Using in-depth interviews, this exploratory study captures perceptions of tourism’s value to farmers in Vermont and fishermen in Maine as a place to start this important conversation. While tourists consume less than 10% of the bounty from Vermont dairy farmers and Maine lobstermen, producers capture a variety of other benefits from tourism, including such economic benefits as the opportunity to promote their company or industry brand, attract new customers, generate supplemental income, and create employment opportunities, along with non-economic benefits such as the opportunity to provide authentic experiences, create great places, showcase their conservation efforts, and highlight their family’s pride and heritage. Public policy could redistribute the benefits of tourism to facilitate a more mutually beneficial symbiosis, including direct subsidies to producers, preservation of working landscapes, marketing and branding activities, and investment in cooperative infrastructure.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Caroline S. Paras, Tracy S. Michaud, Matthew Hoffman
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