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Should a tourist destination keep its traditional culture as its tourism industry grows?

Written by: Zhang, Jiayi

University: Wolverhampton

Should a tourist destination keep its traditional culture as its tourism industry grows?

Author: Jiayi ZHANG University: University of Wolverhampton

This paper provides a description of the current position of cultural tourism in Chinese destinations and discusses whether traditional culture should be preserved or eliminated as China's tourism industry grows by considering the benefits and drawbacks of such actions in the cases of Beijing and Tibet.

Cultural tourism, Chinese destination, Beijing, Tibet

Discussion Paper:
Should a tourist destination keep its traditional culture as its tourism industry grows?

With the improvement in living standards, travelling has become a popular activity in China, and the growth of the tourism industry is a basic reason for developing a city. As an integral part of the national economy, society and culture, tourism plays an important role in the development and running of systems in Chinese destinations. Although tourism has a positive impact on many aspects such as social security, the economy, the culture, etc., at the same time, a series of drawbacks brought by the growth of the tourism industry to a city cannot be ignored. These include environmental issues, the loss of the traditional culture, a dense population problem, transport problems, and the extinction of cultural products. Cultural tourism is based on tour operators creating entertaining objects and educational products to enable consumers to become immersed in a travel experience which has rich cultural connotations. (Bramwell, 2008)

Tibet has a long history and a splendid culture. Tibetan culture makes an outstanding contribution to the precious wealth of world culture. In spite of facing unique natural conditions and a hard living environment, Tibetan people exhibit vitality and the pursuit of a better life. With a combination of South Asian and West Asian cultural exchanges, the Tibetans have created a diverse culture, including language, calendar, music, dance, food, drama, folk art, architectural aesthetics, sculpture, painting, arts and crafts and also a traditional lifestyle. Tibetan culture has had a mutual influence on the development of other cultures, especially Chinese culture.

Beijing, the capital city of China, with its history of more than 850 years, is a political, cultural, and commercial communication centre. Beijing contains a collection of Chinese cultures from various periods, with many historical sites and scenic spots, cultural landscapes, traditional culture and lifestyles. It is one of the largest cities in the world with a strong cultural heritage. In recent years, the development and exploitation of Beijing's tourism industry has had both a positive and negative impact on residents and local communities, so that whether or not a tourist destination should keep its traditional culture as its tourism industry grows has become a subject for debate.

City landscape features and traditional culture are important embodiments of cultural tourism for the following reasons:
(1) They keep track of urban development and leave a memory of the people.
(2) They represent a historical inheritance and continue the thread of national development.
(3) They are important foundations for the further development of the city and opportunities.
For example, in the traditional culture of tourism, growth rises sharply until it reaches a basic equilibrium state. If foreign tourists spend less and less time in the tourist city, this will result in a decline of tourism revenue, which will slow the development of traditional cultural tourism. A well-developed international metropolis can attract a large number of domestic and foreign guests to come to sightsee. A huge number of tourists can bring considerable economic income, and the source of this economic income may be the packaging of traditional culture. However, the packaging of traditional culture may not bring direct benefits, but rather through this packing make traditional culture on the power return.

The packaging and excavation of folk culture does not accord with the traditional concept of marketing. Without a targeted market segment, traditional folk culture tourism will also lack the necessary publicity and packaging. For example, young people would perhaps not see the trend of traditional folk culture as being worth pursuing, and other tourists would also lack access to concrete culture folk tourism information.

Developing tourism while preserving the traditional culture is not without its challenges, but simply developing the traditional culture founded on the original traditions is not enough. A plan to make traditional culture the new driving force of the entire city to promote tourism needs to consider all aspects. The development should come from the tourism industry in order to provide good economic benefits.

Sustainable development and traditional cultural inheritance interact and are mutually associated. On the one hand, tourism brings good economic benefits and expands the influence of the city; on the other hand, it also brings has negative points, such as the adverse effect city development has on people's lives. The development of cultural tourism can have an enormous impact on culture, especially in the negative sense. Therefore, cultural tourism should only be developed to a certain level in order to guarantee sustainable development, which will not only bring economic benefit, but also ecological and cultural benefits. A coordinated development of all these aspects will result in sustainable cultural tourism and a profitable tourism industry.

Bramwell,B. (2008). CULTURAL TOURISM, CEREMONY AND THE STATE IN CHINA. Annals of Tourism Research. 35 (21), p969.

Richards,G (2007). Cultural Tourism: Global And Local Perspectives. Bingmington: The Haworth Hospoitality Press. P281-P298

Gu,H. (2006). A critique of market analysis for suburban tourism in Beijing, China.. Journal of Vacation Marketing. 12 (1), p27-39.