Huayu Wu* - The University of Hong Kong
Yiping Li - The University of Hong Kong
During the last decade, China has shown unusual enthusiasm about world heritage application, seeing a substantial rise of the tourism profits. There is rich literature on China's tourism development at the country's world heritage sites and its impacts, while little attention has been given to the process of world heritage sites application in China. This study intends to explore the reasons beneath China's current "world heritage application fever" by a specific case study. The vernacular Hakka heritage, Tulou in Fujian province of China, is the target case for analysis. A predominantly qualitative approach is adopted, via in-depth interviews to representatives of key stakeholder groups, in order to examine, from various perspectives, the effects of world heritage application on local tourism development. On-site participant observations are used as supplementary methods. Preliminary findings indicate certain conflicts exist, including governmental involvement versus community residents' participation in management; heritage conservation versus cultural change; economic benefits versus social responsibility in the tourism industry. Those conflicts may account for the reasons that the tourism development has not contributed to conservation to date, and has limited tourism benefits for the local communities.