Tag Archives: tourism

Local accounts of high-speed rail reform in China

Speelman, Tabitha. (2015) A bullet train or a paved road? Local accounts of high-speed rail reform in China. The Newsletter, International Institute for Asian Studies, 70 (Spring 2015). URL : http://www.iias.nl/the-newsletter/article/bullet-train-or-paved-road-local-accounts-high-speed-rail-reform-china?utm_source=emailcampaign346&utm_medium=phpList&utm_content=HTMLemail&utm_campaign=%5BIIAS%5D+The+Newsletter+|+No.+70+|+Spring+2015f
The first Chinese high-speed rail (HSR) connection opened in 2007, but by the end of 2013 the country had over 12,000 km of high-speed tracks (the biggest network in the world and about half of all HSR tracks in operation worldwide). Service levels among China’s high-speed trains are high; passengers play games on their phones and consume luxury foodstuff s sold on board, as they near their destination at 300 km/h. The perfectly air-conditioned, mostly quiet HSR environment stands in stark contrast to the bustling carriages of regular Chinese trains, in which passengers chat over card games and share life stories, eating instant noodles and sunflower seeds (not for sale on HSR). Influencing traveling cultures is only one of many ways in which the construction of the world’s most advanced highspeed railroad (HSR) network is changing China, a country in which access to travel is closely tied to socio-economic development. So far, scholarly attention has been limited, but whether it is the economic impact of HSR on remote regions, emerging forms of tourism, or the nostalgia surrounding the disappearing slow trains, the approach of the HSR era in China brings with it many topics worthy of further research.

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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China and Europe: reconnecting across a new Silk Road

Chen, Xiangming, Julia Mardeusz. (2015) China and Europe: reconnecting across a new Silk Road. The European Financial Review, February-March, pp. 5-12. URL: http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1129&context=facpub [Retrieved 19 February 2015]
Since 2013, economic and trade relations between China and Europe have grown significantly. In this article, the authors look beyond conventional economic indicators, like trade, and political issues, like human rights, instead focusing on transport infrastructure, real estate and tourism to show that a new page is unfolding in the history of China-Europe relations.

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Second homes in Hainan (II): social inequalities

The second homes phenomenon not only increases the economic dependency to tourism and real estate sector in Hainan, but also aggravates social inequalities on the island.

In 2013, 40% of all residential real estate transactions were made by non locals. This figure reached 85% in Sanya, the island’s main resort city1. This means that few locals can now afford to buy their home in the southern coast of Hainan. Only wealthy mainlanders can do so.

The Hainanese society has a complex structure, and has long suffered from disparities; second homes may strengthen these inequalities.

Feng Chongyi and David Goodman2 note in the 90’s that the Hainanese society was divided between locals and mainlanders. With Hainan being granted the status of province in 1988, hundred thousand skilled workers flocked from mainland to the island where they were offered high positions in the local administrations and state owned companies.

The development of tourism and second homes in Hainan may deepen these divisions.

According to a study made by Wang, Wei and Li3, Sanya’s population is divided into three main groups that are the local residents (500,000 inhabitants), visitors (100,000) and non local residents  (200 000 inhabitants living in the city several weeks/months per year).

This new population does not only affect real estate prices, but also everyday product prices, this makes locals complain about inflation. The municipal government of Sanya has constantly readjusted the amount of allocation offered to its local residents.Social discontent in Hainan can lead to further tensions between locals and second home owners, and this may make the island’s image less attractive.

Another possible consequence of the second home boom in Hainan is the destruction of local cultural particularisms. With more mainlanders coming to Hainan, the island can lose its “art de vivre”. In the 90’s, one of the consequence of the massive coming of mainlanders to the Hainan was the weakening of Hainanese dialect.

Today, Hainan has for ambition to become a successful tourist destination, but can also do so by offering more than “the sea and sun package”, and so needs to promote its insular culture. And so an equilibirum needs to be found between the settling of second home owners from mainland and the preservation of local culture(s).

 

  1. “85% of Sanya’s residential properties sold to non-islanders”, Hainan government, March 13 2014. Retreived September 20, 2014 from http://en.visithainan.gov.cn/en/lynewsview_2929.htm []
  2. Feng Chongyi and David, S. G. Goodman (1997), “ Hainan: communal politics and the struggle for identity”, in GOODMAN, David S. G. (ed.), China’s provinces in reform : class, community and political culture, London, New York: Routledge []
  3. WANG Fei et al.(2013), “Equalization of public service facilities for tourist cities – case study of Sanya’s downtown public service facilities in the planning process”, ISOCARP []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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Developing rural tourism: the PAT Program and ‘ Nong jia le ’ tourism in China

Baoren Su (2012)), 1 Developing Rural Tourism: the PAT Program and ‘Nong jia le’ Tourism in China, Internation Journal of Tourism Research, 15, 611-619.

Published online 24 July 2012 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/jtr.1903.
  1. College of Tourism and City Administration, Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China []

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Organizing conservation and development in China

Zinda, J. A. (2013). Organizing conservation and development in china: Politics, institutions, biodiversity, and livelihoods. (Order No. 3591054, The University of Wisconsin – Madison). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 335. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1433306129?accountid=16266. (1433306129). Preview (format PDF)

Tourism is an increasingly central element of biodiversity conservation, transforming protected areas worldwide. Building on participant observation and interviews with a broad array of participants, extensive document analysis, and a household survey, this dissertation investigates the creation of national parks in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and what it reveals about how actors contend to get their visions for tourism and conservation incorporated in protected area institutions as well as how those institutions influence conservation practices and rural livelihoods.

In the first half, I show how contention among state agencies with varied connections to extra-state actors has shaped Yunnan’s national parks. The Nature Conservancy’s limited ability to appeal to state bodies with leverage over protected areas constrained its effort to promote a new conservation model. Local governments have shifted from supporting community-centered tourism to consolidating high-volume attractions under state-affiliated companies. A case comparison of nine protected areas shows that local authorities channel the substantial revenues tourism yields toward funding government activities and maintaining scenic façades for tourists rather than intensive biodiversity conservation. Where strong conservation practices are adopted, it is due to intervention under central government priorities.

In the second half, I examine how national park institutions affect community residents. In Meili Snow Mountain National Park, community-centered tourism operations persist, while in Pudacuo National Park, residents have become park employees. Residents of each park express concerns about different issues, but they voice these concerns in similar terms, invoking moral economies of appropriate state action. I use household survey data and qualitative observations to examine the impacts of different forms of tourism participation on livelihoods and community dynamics. Different tourism activities’ demands for labor and inputs have stronger impacts than income on resource use. Not all community-based tourism is equal: income inequality is higher and cooperation less common where household entrepreneurship predominates, compared to communities where institutions equalize participation, whether under community management or as park employees. The consolidation of protected area tourism attractions brings challenges as park authorities attempt to manage residents, while its economic and environmental impacts have complex relationships with local economies and ecologies.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Jiaju, a remote Tibetan village confronted with tourism

This picture was taken at the entrance of the Tibetan village Jiaju, located near Danba in the mountainous region of western Sichuan. A seeing spot has been set up with a glass railing so that visitors could admire, safely, the amazing view of the Tibetan village from above. The woman in the picture, dressed in a traditional Jiarong style, came two minutes after I, and three other Chinese visitors in their SUV, arrived. She gave a tight smile and started to pose, to the joy of some, and the unease of others…

Why all this orchestration in this remote and peaceful village?

In 2005, Jiaju was selected as the most beautiful village in China by the Chinese National Geographic Magazine.

A journalist wrote:

The village of Jiaju has no doubt benefited as a result of tourism – there are few signs of poverty and many villagers own new cars and sports utility vehicles. But tourism has also impacted the surrounding environment and changed the fabric of the village. Indeed, Jiaju embodies many of the issues China’s minority regions face as the country’s internal tourism industry grows.

He Ming, the director of Yunnan University’s Research Centre of Ethnic Minorities in China’s South-west Frontier, says increased tourism helps foster development of minority regions and increases local incomes. For Han tourists, the experience of visiting minority regions provides a valuable cultural exchange that promotes goodwill between China’s different ethnic groups.

But He says that governments at the federal and local level must take steps to protect the rights and interests of the minority cultures, rather than exploiting them to accommodate Han tourists.(( Mitch Moxley, Inter Press Service, 2010 ))

Thus, the local government’s choices will shape Jiaju’s future. However, it will also depend on the ability of the communities to make their own choices: to develop the image of the “most beautiful village of China” and spread it over the world, or to keep a slice of authenticity by preserving their local identity, practices and architecture from mass tourism and exploitation. Furthermore, if they decide to preserve the authenticity of this place, the next step is to define a way to proceed. Should the UNESCO intervene and impose its Western rules in terms of heritage conservation? Or should the local government create an new system, which combines some Western practices in terms of heritage conservation with new Chinese ones?

 

 

Oriane Pillet

Intern at the CNRS, UrbaChina project. M.A. in urban local development (IEDES, Paris); M.A. in international development studies (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris – Utrecht University); B.A. in geography and law (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris).

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Beijing attracting less tourists?

Last year, the number of foreign visitors to China dropped, including in Beijing, which attracted fewer international tourists. Last month, the China Daily published an interesting article on this slowdown1 in which the author presents three main reasons for this decline.

The first, and most important, reason, according to this article, is the pollution and bad air quality in Beijing. We at UrbaChina have already highlighted the possible damage of pollution on China’s global aspiration. Foreign visitors have seen the grey skies of Beijing on TV and simply do not want to experience it in reality.

The second consists of the economic crisis and Yuan appreciation. China has become more expensive to visit for foreign visitors, especially those coming from Europe.

The third reason raised by this article is that Beijing is no longer exotic. China is not as “mysterious” as it was a few years ago, and Beijing is no longer a dream destination. Although this argument should seem inadequate, the demolition of many “hutong” and the rapid modernisation of the city have negatively influenced foreign tourists, who prefer romantic destinations with fewer skyscrapers and more traditional districts.

However, there may be other reasons for this slowdown. Several articles rightly pointed out that the decline of tourism in China could also be caused by political tensions between China and her neighbours. Heather Timmons from Quartz2 showed that this decline mostly concerns tourism flows from Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, countries involved in maritime disputes with China. The slowdown is much less significant with tourists from Europe and North America.

If Beijing and Shanghai want to become global tourist destinations, they must make attracting visitors from neighbouring countries a priority, as they are more likely to pick them as week-end destinations. It should be noted that in the case of Paris half of international visitors actually come from Europe.

This means that, for China to host more inbound tourists, more integration is needed in Asia. Since 2003, Japanese tourists can visit China (up to 15 days) without a visa, but this is not enough. There need to be more campaigns targeted at the Japanese and other nations explaining that China welcomes every visitor. This will help Beijing attract more foreign tourists while waiting for grey skies to turn blue once again.

  1. Zhang Yuchen (2014). The city that’s not forbidden, just avoided. China Daily, 13 May 2014, accessed 30 May 2014 from http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-05/13/content_17502797.htm. []
  2. Heather  Timmons (2014). Pollution isn’t the only thing killing tourism in Beijing. Quartz, 14 January 2014, accessed 30 May 2014 from http://qz.com/166554/pollution-isnt-the-only-thing-killing-tourism-in-beijing/. []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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“Natural” cities

In a paper published last year, two Swedish scholars from Örebro University, Ulrika Olausson and Ylva Uggla1, discussed the implication of nature in place promotion based on the example of Stockholm. Though several studies have highlighted the desirable presence of nature (such as parks) in cities, there has been less research on the use of nature in city marketing.

The authors studied Stockholm’s official visitor guide website, and identified three frames of nature. In the first frame, nature and city are complementary. In the second, nature is considered the “exotic other”. In the last, it is defined as “pristine nature”. All these different aspects of nature are offered in Stockholm. However, according to the authors, these three frames are constructed to answer tourism demand. Nature has thus been transformed into a commodity for commercial purposes.

The authors acknowledged that a promotional website could hardly consider the negative impacts of urbanisation on nature in depth, but were nonetheless disappointed at the predominance of these frames.

These notions of nature-human relations, while useful for promoting cities and tourism, do not meet the criteria for sustainable development.

Although Stockholm is considered one of Europe’s greenest cities, another vision of nature is needed so that it is not considered merely a product made available to visitors.

  1. Uggla, Y. & Olausson, U. (2012). The Enrollment of Nature in Tourist Information: Framing Urban Nature as ‘the Other’. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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