Date of this Version

Fall 12-6-2013


Baskerville, Brian. 2013. Building a GIS Model to Assess Agritourism Potential. MA Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Geography, Under the Supervision of Professor James W. Merchant. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Brian Baskerville


Rural areas of the world are developing and implementing tourism programs to diversify and reinvigorate their local economies. Often, these programs focus on privately-held lands in largely agricultural regions. In some countries, tourism development strategies have combined agriculture and tourism to create a new industry – agritourism. This industry, although not new in the United States, is still in its nascent stages. Before starting an agritourism enterprise, farmers and ranchers must consider the various factors that will likely influence their potential for long-term success. These factors can be grouped into 1) farm-specific factors such as an operator’s personality or the aesthetic qualities of the individual farmstead and 2) location-based factors such as a proximity to a city or nearness to a major road. The research on agritourism is relatively sparse and most studies have focused on only the farm-specific factors of agritourism potential; relatively little attention has been paid to the geospatial dimensions of this industry. This thesis addresses this shortcoming in the literature by developing a GIS-based model that maps the spatial distribution of agritourism potential, using the state of Nebraska as a case study. Through regression and histogram analysis of existing agritourism operations, four critical location-based variables were determined to be especially important for assessing the potential for agritourism: proximity to rivers, proximity to roads, vegetative variety, and non-farm population. The variables were combined in a GIS using a linear combination model to produce maps portraying agritourism potential in Nebraska. The maps generated with this GIS-based model can be used by farmers and ranchers considering starting an agritourism enterprise on their farm or by state-wide economic and tourism development entities looking to make strategic investments in the state’s tourism infrastructure.

Advisor: James W. Merchant