Sustaining New England’s iconic tourism landscapes

An exploratory study to examine perceptions of value from farmers and fishermen




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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Author Biographies

Caroline S. Paras, University of Maine

MA; Interdisciplinary PhD Fellow

Tracy S. Michaud, University of Southern Maine

PhD; Assistant Professor and Chair, Tourism & Hospitality Program

Matthew Hoffman, College of Agriculture and Rural Development (Høgskulen for grøn utvikling)

PhD; Associate Professor



How to Cite

Paras, C., Michaud, T., & Hoffman, M. (2022). Sustaining New England’s iconic tourism landscapes: An exploratory study to examine perceptions of value from farmers and fishermen. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(1), 141–156.

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