Tourism in China

It is pretty clear to see that traditionally, tourism acts as a major source of income within many countries. China is one of many countries that is considered to currently have a developing tourism market. The huge amounts of investment put into this area points to the important role it plays in the growth of the economy. This is one of the main reasons why I believe it is important for people to know and read about it. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 57.6 million foreign visitors entered the country in 2011, generating over $40 billion dollars in revenue (Ping). With that being said, China is now the third most visited country in the world. Unlike many other developing economies, tourism is still considered a relatively new experience in China. For this assignment, I chose to compare the influence of economic, social and political characteristics that have developed tourism in China.

It is important to understand why tourism in China is such a big deal and why it is important to know about, whether you plan on traveling there or not. As China industrializes, tourism will become one of its primary and fastest growing economic areas. China is expected to become the world’s most visited country by 2020. Because of this, aspects of China that are meant to be kept within the culture are now not being taken seriously. For example, in the ‘State, Market, and Religions in Chinese Societies’ article, it discussed how a monk who was not qualified to perform any blessings was approached by a Han Chinese tour guide who said that she had a bunch of tourists who wanted to be blessed. Even though the monk was not qualified, he performed the blessing just for the tourists. This is when I realized how much damage tourism has brought to local Chinese cultures. Due to the massive, but chaotic increase in tourist infrastructure, integration into the market system has been accompanied by a number of negative consequences for local and ethnic communities. The development of a tourist political economy has not benefited locals to any great degree and it is clear how cultural values may be commercialized and corrupted by tourism in China.

It is clear that China’s tourism has strongly increased development within the country. There are many positive impacts of tourism that will bring forth great opportunities but just like anything there are also a number of challenges that China has had to grapple with and will continue to. I believe one of China’s biggest challenges is the contradictions between their tourists and markets. China has been in the process of transition from a planned economy to a market economy, but the international tourism piece is still not able to shake off the barriers of the old system in terms of organization, operation and management. The drawbacks of China’s present system include the lack of related laws and regulations, unreliable product quality, lack of knowledge of international market demand, and the way in which rigid business operations are conducted (Guangrui). These drawbacks could potentially influence the image building of China in the international tourism market.

When I first started this assignment, I envisioned it to be in the form of a travel brochure. I believe the reason I saw it playing out like that is because when I travel, I enjoy picking up brochures from different sites I visit to get the lowdown on what is popular around the site and the significance of things. Now that I have done further research, I believe taking the form of a research paper would better inform people who are interested in learning about tourism in China and how it has affected people who live there, as well as all of the behind the scenes opportunities and challenges that have risen because of tourism. I believe it is important for everyone to recognize all of the factors that could potentially hurt a country due to the tourism industry.



Guangrui Zhang, Ray Pine, Hanqin Qiu Zhang, (2000) “China’s international tourism

development: present and future”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 12 Issue: 5, pp.282-290, doi: 10.1108/09596110010339634
Ping, Zhou. “Tourism Development in China.” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

10 thoughts on “Tourism in China

  1. Robert Wakefield

    I personally did not know that tourism was a large part of the their economy, and that it had a large positive impact on its development. I also never thought that it would have such a similar kind of effect as the tourism industry did in Jordan. As we learned in my class, Jordan’s Cultural Mosaic, one of Jordan’s biggest and most important economic areas is their tourism industry. It has lead to many more job opportunities and brings a lot money into the economy that can be used to boost the other parts that are not doing as well yet. From what I’ve gathered in your paper is that you think that the new Chinese tourism industry has already done something similar and will continue to do so as it grows. Yet, you’ve also slightly mentioned how it has a damaging effect on the local Chinese cultures. In Jordan, it was not mentioned much, but I had the feeling it kinda ruined the culture and made it more commercialized, so it makes sense that it would also be happening in China.But, do you think that the economic growth is worth the hit to the culture? Or is culture more important? I think in China’s case, the economy will continue developing quickly with or without the super-tourism that kills culture, but in Jordan it’s a necessary sacrifice to get to the economy they are looking to achieve.

  2. Timothy Donovan

    I know that China was one of the most visited countries but I didn’t know that it’s tourism industry was so large. I have to admit that I bought into the news when it comes to China. We really only hear bad things when it comes to china in the news because those are the interesting stories. It was really only until I talked to people that went to China with the freeman foundation here that I realized how wrong I was. I also found the part on the non monks performing blessings interesting and I would agree that it will most likely ruin the culture. We don’t an a culture as old as the one in china here in the United States so while stuff like that may be tolerated here I can see why it would be hated there.

    1. Timothy Donovan

      This is similar to the situation in Jordan where the tourist industry is popular but it is so diluted with tour guides giving fake information that the industry is losing credibility

  3. James Clark

    A lot of insightful information in this summary. I found it interesting that China was number three on the list for most visited countries in the world. When I think of China, I think it of a highly populated and polluted city. I never really saw China as a tourist city. The story about the Monk blessing tourists really surprised me. I never took into account the damage that the tourist industry can bring to existing cultures. The tourist industry in Jordan is also flourishing. There are many places that tourists can go in order to view the influences of ancient cultures. Just like in China with the Great Wall and The Terracotta Army in Xi’an.

  4. Douglas Abbiss

    That’s an interesting perspective on the situation. I wonder if that isn’t becoming something of a global phenomenon. Tourism, and more specifically tourist expectations, are typecast based on popular perception of the area. Obviously, as in all business, it is most profitable to give the customer what they are expecting. This provides a strong incentive to characterize your culture for foreign consumption. A similar thing occurs in Cuba with the voodoo attractions. Quite frankly, actual voodoo and Santeria is fairly ordinary, and definitely not what is portrayed in popular culture. But this exotic image persists because as in China, the tourism industry relies upon it. While undoubtedly a serious issue, it has no easy solution.

  5. John Tyner

    Great piece on China and how tourism and development are affecting the Chinese culture! I never realized that China has had trouble entering big market economies due to its cultural divide. As a growing superpower, it is clear that China will have to further develop itself and bend to the needs of other tourists coming in. Like you mentioned, some monks are going out of their way to bless tourists even if they are not qualified, and that illustrates the underlying problem here. Pollution and over development are problems that China will have in the future despite their booming economy. It is important for the government to act quickly and try to preserve China’s culture and natural beauty before it is over saturated with the tourism industry.

    In my Life in the Amazon class, we talked at length about how over development and pollution can cause serious problems over time. Specifically, the Amazon River Basin is the center of these problems. Overdevelopment by the Brazilian government has not only led to large scale pollution and deforestation, but also the loss of culture and ancient knowledge passed down by the tribes that live in these areas. Their livelihood is directly affected by the state-sanctioned deforestation. Because of Brazil’s want to develop, their are jeopardizing the ancient cultures that are a crucial part of their history.

  6. Maxwell Hamburg

    I think it is very interesting that you did your topic on tourism in China. It is definitely an issue that has created a sense of fake culture and entertainment that we see as real. Even though they preform actual ceremonies and blessing they in the end mean nothing and are there for the show. You cannot think about China without think of the temples or the shaman that line the streets and when called upon by the group they will perform the “ceremony”. This has just like you said helped bring in money and help the economy and growth because so many people go over to see these things happen. It has clearly become a global issue with the same things happening in temples in India or even people who visit African tribes. They will do it for money even though there is no true meaning behind it. This is a great topic and I would love to read the actual paper.

  7. Morgen Hooley

    Funny that you mention the Chinese religious culture being hurt by the rise of tourism as I read about some very similar in the Amazon. Some of the various indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest are facing the same issue. Once they make contact with the modern world, some of them have no choice but to accept tourists into their villages to sustain themselves. Similar to the monks, these people basically have to turn their culture into a show regularly just to make a living. It’s sad that while tourism allows people to get a taste of cultures all over the world, it can come at the cost of the legitimacy of the cultures within those places.

  8. Kiera Hufford

    I think it’s interesting how China as a whole is utilizing tourism as a large economic advancement, especially with the way the rise in tourism is hurting the religions. And, as you mentioned, the tourism in China has largely increased the development of the country. This is true in many places, including the Amazon; however, in the Amazon, there are villages and tribes that reluctantly embrace it–allowing tourists to gawk and take photos of them for a small fee–and villages/tribes who reject development to the point that they’ve retreated into the Amazon and are referred to as “uncontacted tribes.”

    Many tribes fear what development will do to their culture; they fear the loss of everything that their tribe was based on and grew on. They’re justified, as many tribes have pointed out the influence that tourists are having on their children. We watched a film called the “Cannibal Tours” that followed these tourists as they gawked at the natives. It’s very reminiscent of how the monk performed the blessings, even though he wasn’t qualified, just because the tourists wanted him to.

  9. Sarah Wile

    Sarah, what an interesting topic! I definitely was intrigued when we learned about this in class. I think what struck me as similar between our projects was how for my class, European Union: a House Divided, I decided to look at how Socialism has been misconstrued in America as something that we idolize within Scandinavian countries– even though it isn’t truly present. Although this is significantly less harmful than the example you’re giving, it’s still a misrepresentation of an entire culture and political system in a country that we could know so much more about if we just took the time to research about what was going on. I hope that these kinds of projects allow the people around us to realize that there is so much more to other people than the stereotype of what we decide a culture is.


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