Tourist Engagement and Perceived Naturalness: Unveiling the Pathways to Sustainable Tourism and Purchase Intentions in Vertical Farming

Yuxin Chen, E Huang, Peizhou Huang


With sustainable tourism and escalating food demands, vertical farming emerges as a pivotal innovation that bridges agricultural sustainability and tourism. This paper explores the role of tourist engagement at vertical farms in promoting sustainability awareness, altering perceptions of naturalness of vertical farm agricultural products, and shaping purchase intentions for these products. Utilizing Consumer Socialization Theory (CST) as a framework, the study delves into how tourist engagement at vertical farms can serve as a catalyst for enhancing the appeal and acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices. A cross sectional survey of 558 tourists in Malaysia and the Greater Bay Area of China was conducted using a quantitative approach. A Structural Equation Model (SEM) analysis revealed that tourist engagement significantly increases sustainability awareness and perceived naturalness, which, in turn, positively impacts purchase intentions. Interestingly, while tourist engagement directly increases purchase intentions, sustainability awareness does not directly increase purchase intentions, underscoring the nuanced role perceived naturalness plays in the decision making process. The findings underscore the importance of integrating vertical farming into the tourism experience as a strategy for promoting sustainable agricultural practices and increasing consumer acceptance. This study enriches the discourse on sustainable tourism's role in advancing sustainable agriculture, providing key insights for stakeholders in both the tourism and agriculture sectors to foster environmental stewardship and sustainable consumer behavior.

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