Index > Briefing
Sunday, September 20, 2020
The Development and Boundary of Tourism
Chan Kung

A great number of provinces and cities in China are now heavily developing tourism, hoping to use tourism to revive the economic growth caused by the weakening of secondary industries such as manufacturing and mining. In Shanxi Province, for instance, the reform of the energy structure has made it the worst economic-performing province in recent years. Faced with the urgent need for transformation, its untapped tourism resources could very well be a lifeline, but how to go about developing the tertiary industry based on tourism is still a serious challenge for many conventional secondary industry provinces and cities that lack tourism development and management experience. If not performed well, despite having tourism resources with a great amount of potential, the actual development and management of tourism would be a "destructive development". In such cases, more often than not a huge sum of money would be spent, with less than ideal results in return. Still taking Shanxi as an example, compared with more conventional tourism hotspots, Shanxi's current tourism development and management is not exactly noteworthy, and it still faces a number of prominent problems and challenges.

How should the tourism industry be developed and managed? What valuable experience does tourism development and management have at the level of urban principles? This is not just a theoretical problem, but also an issue worthy of research and consideration as well as resolving.

As urbanization develops and expands throughout the world, the tourism industry of various countries throughout the world is also experiencing tremendous development, but with it also comes various conflicts and contradictions between locals and tourists. Tourism industries developed for the purpose of economic growth has been met with strong opposition from the locals, and it is not uncommon to see troubles and complaints because of this.

In New Zealand, restrictions of free travel imposed on Mainland Chinese were lifted in recent years. Cars are essential for free travel in New Zealand, and as its transportation system is almost completely different, the result is that tourists from Mainland China, due to either ignorance or carelessness, showed a large number of irregular driving behaviors. This in turn, brought greater pressure on New Zealand's somewhat underdeveloped road system. As locals face the deteriorating traffic environment, dissatisfactions naturally arise. In Spain, beach goers both locally and from Britain are often in conflict, of which there appears to be no shortage of between the two. Not only did these incidents make headlines in various countries, but these conflicts tended to be prolonged, organized, and politicized. This may even result in the tourism industry evolving further changes in the social environment and even produce long term political impacts.

Unlike other countries in the world, because of its geographical restrictions, Tahiti, which is part of the French Polynesia, must rely on tourism. Apart from fishery and coastal planting, tourism is the largest economic industry in Tahiti. The country's economy was in an underdeveloped state, but thanks to its unique scenery, Tahiti has made itself one of the best island destinations in the world, and tens of thousands of tourists come here for a vacation every year. In order to serve these tourists, Tahiti has some of the best hotels and transportation facilities with an infrastructural convenience that far exceeds its own level of development. For Tahiti, all these changes mean that the development of tourism has brought "good things", and tourism has become the pillar of the local economy. Yet, tourism industry has also reconstructed the local economic structure. The local people are caught in this situation, whether they want to or not. As the economic interests cannot be divided equally, this means that in an absolute tourist destination like Tahiti, social contradictions and conflicts are inevitable. This means that the advent of huge troubles and conflicts would only be a matter of time.

Of course, the idea of "thinking about the present before considering the future" still exists in urban management. But in practice, not only does it go against the current policy direction, but it is also not supported by urban theory. After a huge explosion in Jiangsu's chemical industry town, ANBOUND published an analytical view and pointed out in detail the reasons and fundamental flaws of such a view.

Travel is essentially an experience of the lifestyles of different people, which conforms to the nature of human exploration. Generally speaking, the contradiction between travelers and locals seems to be inevitable. There are no two exact same life patterns in the world, and when two different patterns collide within the scope of expansion, one of them would be forced to accept and serve the other, and in usual cases the endogenous one would serve the exogenous one, which inevitably leads to disagreements. When the economic benefits of tourism can be distributed evenly, conflicts and contradictions can still be controlled. Yet, if tourism develops excessively and becomes the main industry as well as being unable to be universally distributed, conflicts and contradictions will be concentrated and will eventually erupt, causing serious social problems.

In addition, this will also cause changes in economic structure. This change is rigid and comes with a certain degree of compulsion. Using the example of Tahiti, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy. Thorough infrastructure construction only serves the interests of tourists, and not the local community. The five-star hotels that receive tourists are far from affordable for the local populace. This complete reconstructing of the local economic structure also laid the foundation for future contradictions and conflicts.

How then, can such problems be resolved?

Development requires tourism, and tourism will cause so-called "problems in development". Many cities and regions seem to be facing the problem of "choice", i.e. either to develop the tourism industry and endure the consequences, or to not develop it. This is the case with the development experience of many parts of China, and the consequences of these "choices" are serious and comes with high costs. In reality however, this is really not a question of choice, but rather a technical issue in the development of the industry.

In a previous study, ANBOUND used the development of Cancun, Mexico as an example, and proposed several policy solutions. The focus was to divide the space, establish an invisible boundary, and create an invisible protected area for the local low-cost life. The price impact and influence brought about by the high-cost living of tourists was to be restricted to a certain area by the invisible boundary. The low-cost life of local people can then be protected in a certain regional space and can be maintained to a certain extent. This is also a basic urban strategy for amplifying the benefits of tourism. The people would be able to get what they need as well as reap benefits. Otherwise, tourists' large-scale spending will soon bring high prices, and high prices will quickly eat up tourism revenue. In the end, not only will the local society fail to benefit, but will also pay the price of the environment.

Therefore, good planning is the prerequisite for the development of tourism, and planning for a larger-scaled development requires more attention on the strategy, especially the relative isolation of development space and the establishment of boundary conditions. This is determined by the principles of urban and industrial development, and is also a lesson from countless failed experiences. Everything has its causes; the key is whether we can get inspiration from the these causes to untangle the problems, so that the intended goals and blueprints can be truly realized.

Final analysis conclusion:

The development of tourism is regarded by many places as the only way to transform the economy, but excessive development without planning can also bring harm and problems to local socio-economic development. To resolve the conflict of interests between tourists and locals, it is necessary to divide space in development planning, establish an invisible boundary of lifestyle, cost of living, and ecological environment, so that tourists and locals can each fulfill their needs.


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