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Tourism and Travel: A Research Guide

Ecotourism, Agritourism, & Adventure Tourism

Hiking--WPA recreation project, Dist. No. 2. 1939. Work Projects Administration Poster Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Ecotourism or sustainable tourism, rural or agricultural tourism, and adventure tourism are all very close concepts and the resources that report of them overlap frequently.

Ecotourism / Sustainable Tourism

Generally speaking it is defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. It is an area of tourism that ha been growing. It often involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions and focuses on local culture, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet.


Generally, agritourism is seen as attracting travelers or visitors to an area or areas used primarily for agricultural purposes is often seen as a boon to struggling small farmers. This tourism sector has been a subject of study since the early days of tourism scholarship but only recently become a special focus of study because it is dissimilar enough from other areas to be a study subject unto itself. While national statistics on this sector are difficult to come by most of the statistics and study come from the states and state universities.

Culinary Tourism

Culinary tourism applies to people traveling worldwide for food specifically or it is considered an important aspect to explore when visiting. In some cases, it can be closely tied to or an extension of, cultural tourism, in other it may be considered a form of agricultural tourism. While culinary tourism is not a new phenomenon, it is more of an emerging type of tourism in terms of research. The literature for it can be found within most of the tourism literature as there is less of it on its own. Much of the discussion is also very geographic specific and limited to a country, a region, or even a city.

Adventure Tourism

To a certain extent there has been a concept of Adventure Tourism for a long time. However, what is considered an "adventure" has changed over time. Generally, Adventure Tourism involves exploration or travel to remote or exotic destinations and/or very unique activities. It is generally grouped into two areas: "hard activities" and "soft activities." "Hard activities" include such activities as water adventures, mountain biking, caving, climbing, etc. while "soft activities" include cycling, camping, water skiing, snow skiing, dude ranches, horse riding etc. Some activities like hiking cycling, backpacking can fit into both hard and soft activities depending on the destination. Like Ecotourism, adventure tourism is an area that is experiencing growth as people's appetite for ever newer and more unique experiences changes. Data for this area is likely to be contained within the larger publications on travel and tourism and may even at times be grouped with ecotourism.

Print Resources

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available. Also, see the General Resources section as some of the books included there get into specific areas as part of the larger sector.

Internet Resources

A lot of research in this area should be done via the Internet. It is the best place to understand this segment of the industry and its trends. We have included two market research firms below but there are other firms reporting on this part of the industry including and Technavio.