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Attaining harmony: understanding the relationship between ecotourism and protected areas in China


Xu, H and Cui, Q and Sofield, T and Li, FMS, Attaining harmony: understanding the relationship between ecotourism and protected areas in China, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 22, (8) pp. 1131-1150. ISSN 0966-9582 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/09669582.2014.902064


This paper explores the power of both traditional culture and modernity, their interaction, and ecotourism as defined and developed in China, and suggests a new framework for ecotourism policies. It argues that issues in ecotourism should reflect scientific and empirical evidence, but also integrate traditional Chinese cultural beliefs, and political and social factors, to achieve sustainability. The protected area system, central to ecotourism in China, was introduced by government to bring modernity and globalization. The management model follows western values, tending to separate humans from nature for conservation purposes, using institutionalized western zoning systems. This approach is inconsistent with millennia-old Chinese cultural values about relationships between nature and humans, centred around tian ren he yi humans and nature as a unified entity. Instead of managing conflicts, attaining harmony (in a subjective experiential way) is the fundamental Chinese approach. The paper explores conflicts between the two value systems, and how Confucian "middle ways" are being crafted to balance the fast-growing special needs of Chinese eco-tourists with the top-down regulation of protected areas. It notes new developments in protected area tourism management in the West, and opportunities to blend Chinese traditional values about harmony with evolving western practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecotourism, China, harmony, culture, nature reserve, government
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Tourism
Research Field:Tourism not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Commercial Services and Tourism
Objective Group:Tourism services
Objective Field:Tourism services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Li, FMS (Ms Sarah Li)
ID Code:100420
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:43
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2015-05-15
Last Modified:2015-06-17

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