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Tourism and Extension: Opportunities to connect with National Extension Tourism team

Posted: July 3, 2018

Wineries, breweries, fall festivals, hiking, camping….these are just some of the joys of the great outdoors and the bucolic beauty of visiting a thriving farm. Activities such as these are important economic drivers to many business owners living in rural America, and represent an arena of potential for the Land Grant system. A national group of Extension-affiliated professionals is interested in creating best practices to better help rural communities develop resilient businesses and advance Extension work under the tourism umbrella.
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

This national group has been convening since 1994 under the name National Extension Tourism Design Team (NET). NET’s mission is to enhance sustainable tourism development nationally by providing relevant research, training, resources, and networking opportunities in tourism and recreation, and to provide marketing, management, and development for Extension and tourism professionals.

Recent NET activities include a national survey of Extension-affiliated professionals to understand the geographic dispersal and varied disciplines working in this space. The survey was open during the first half of 2018, and captured tourism-related work in states with and without named tourism programs. For example, many land grant staff reported working on Agritourism under administrative areas such as Agriculture Business or Food Systems programs. Another side of tourism programming includes recreational tourism, which may fall under Natural Resources, Forestry or Land Management programs. The survey helped create a deeper view into the collective body of tourism work at the national level by looking past organization level definitions.

"What I like about tourism is it's an asset base we can build on for even better community and economic development outcomes."
-Daniel Eades at the 2018 NACDEP session on tourism and Extension

Additional work includes research by NET member Daniel Eades (West Virginia University), who examined government data sets to understand the value added to the national economy by tourism, jobs attributed to this sector, and outdoor recreation as a percentage of GDP with comparable industries.

These findings, as well as an Extension/ Land Grant opportunity roadmap were synthesized into a presentation at the 2018 National Association for Community Development Professionals (NACDEP) Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio. The presentation, entitled Tourism and Extension: Creating best practices to better help rural communities develop business opportunities was a multi-state collaboration between Douglas Arbogast and Daniel Eades (WVU), Stephan Goetz, Yicheol Han, and Heather Manzo (Penn State, NERCRD).

Upcoming opportunities to join the tourism conversation include:

By Heather Manzo