Skip to main content

How can tourism help agriculture-based enterprises be sustainable?

How can communities use tourism to preserve their traditions and heritage?

What are the positive and negative impacts that specialized tourism brings to society?

men working on latta plantation

Latta Plantation in Huntersville, NC (Photo credit: C. Barbieri).

Small rural communities in the U.S. and around the world are struggling to maintain their economic prosperity in the face of rapid global changes. As a result, these communities are losing their natural resources and cultural heritage, which is leading to an alarming rate of youth exodus. In response, rural communities are developing innovative enterprises which offer specialized tourism services to revitalize their local economies and maintain their traditional lifestyles. Specialized tourism, especially when offered in working farmlands, is capable to supplement falling farm income, create jobs, and preserve agricultural heritage and biodiversity. Our research team employs a variety of scientific methods to monitor the development of specialized tourism, assess its socio-cultural, environmental, and economic benefits, evaluate the needs of current and potential visitors, and inform best practices towards sustainability. You can learn more about the breadth of our research in our Agritourism and Societal Well-being lab page.

The Envisioned Outcomes

Vibrant rural communities where specialized tourism helps to:

  • Create local jobs and revitalize local economies.
  • Preserve family farms and agricultural landscapes.
  • Maintain traditional lifestyles and heritage.

Our Team

Featured Project: Understanding the Meaning and Benefits of Agritourism

Their Mission?

mirza halim interviewing agritourism provider

Mirza Halim interviewing an agritourism an agritourism provider in Ellerbe, NC (Photo credit: C. Barbieri).

Dr. Carla Barbieri and Mirza Halim (masters’ student) are leading a collaborative study to investigate the meaning of success among female farmers involved in agritourism. The team is also documenting opportunities and challenges these women face in their entrepreneurial developments.

Why does this matter?

Agritourism has increased over the years in the U.S. and in NC. Although women are the main actors behind its development and management, evidence indicates they tend to earn less than men. By identifying opportunities and challenges these women face, our results will help to inform educational programs to maximize their opportunities to achieve entrepreneurial success. In fostering greater agritourism success, our study will also seed the conditions to foster sustainable rural economic development in NC.


Featured Project: Experiential Tourism in the Peruvian Andes

Their Mission?Carla-(Agritourism)-3-cropped_web

Dr. Carla Barbieri, with colleagues Sotomayor and Gil Arroyo from the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (Lima, Peru), are investigating the sustainability of experiential tourism in the Peruvian Andes. The research team interviewed families offering this type of tourism from seven quechua communities in the Cusco-Puno corridor.

Why does this matter?

Our study indicates that experiential tourism is bringing an array of cultural benefits to these communities, especially in recovering unique ancestral traditions, arts and crafts, and linguistic and gastronomic practices. However, we also found that some cultural practices are being modified to better fit tourists’ tastes and desires. Our study will inform planning and management guidelines so tourism can help to maintain quechua lifestyles and heritage and reduce the unnecessary adoption of foreign practices.



Examples of Recent Publications from PRTM Faculty in the area of Agritourism and Societal Well-being

Xu, S., Leung, Y-F., & Barbieri, C. (2016). Characterizing themed touring routes – A geospatial and tourism evaluation of wine trails. Tourism Planning & Development, 13(2): 168-184.

Sotomayor, S., & Barbieri, C. (2016). An exploratory examination of serious surfers: Implications for the surf tourism industry. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18(1): 62-73.

LaPan, C. & Barbieri, C. (2014). The role of agritourism in heritage preservation. Current Issues in Tourism, 17(8): 666-673.

Leung, Y-F., Barbieri, C., & Floyd, M.F. (2014). Tourism and recreation research along the natural-rural-urban gradient: Global trends and implications for China. Tourism Tribune, 29(6): 3-6.

Valdivia, C. & Barbieri, C. (2014). Agritourism as a sustainable adaptation strategy to climate change in the Andean Altiplano. Tourism Management Perspectives, 11: 18-25.

Gao, J., Barbieri, C., & Valdivia, C. (2014). Agricultural landscape preferences: Implications for agritourism development. Journal of Travel Research, 53(3): 366-379.