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Attaining harmony: understanding the relationship between ecotourism and protected areas in China
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-18, 09:56 authored by Xu, H, Cui, Q, Sofield, T, Li, FMS
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.
Publication titleJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Place of publicationUnited Kingdon
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