Palma, from 23 to 25 October 2013
Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism
Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari

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Friday 25 October, 2013 15:00 to 15:20 Oral Communication
Governance and political economy in rural tourism development in China
Speaker: Yi Wang, University of Nottingham Ningbo

Authors: Yi Wang

In China, tourism is often considered into local governments’ political agenda because its contribution to economic and social regenerations for the rural areas. This paper adopts a political economy perspective and Jessop’s strategic relational approach to understand the dialectical and interweaving relations between economic and political initiatives in the process of rural tourism development in China. As most of the rural tourism development happens at township level, which is the lowest administrative unit among Chinese governments, this study uses Luting Township as a case study to evaluate the above relationships. Luting Township locates at an economically active region of Zhejiang province. Data is collected through 34 in-depth interviews with political cadres at county, township and village levels, and with villagers. Discourse analysis is used to evaluate tourism planning documents, government documents, newspapers and interview transcripts. Jessop’s strategic relational approach indicates that the state has strategic selectivity and the actors have strategic calculation under the structural constraints. In the Luting Township’s case, this approach helps to understand a two-folded dialectical relation. First, objectives of economic growth and political reputation are both important for the local state, while, it finds that the economic objective is often prevailed by the local state. Second, the decisions of rural tourism development are resulted by both the structural constraints from the political system and the strategic responses of leading political cadres. It explains that the leading political cadres, who are constrained most by the state, are able to response strategically to prevail either economic or political purposes for themselves. Additionally, the study explores the rural governance in Luting in the process of tourism development. It finds that central state gives decentralized power to the local state in relation to local rural tourism development. The county government, township government and the village committees are the main involved actors. However, comparing to the municipal level, the decision-making process at township level is very centralized. The decision makers are mainly those leading political cadres at county and township governments. Restricted involvement is found among other government departments, organizations and private sector actors. However, under such a centralized government environment, villagers are found to have involved actively in the process of rural tourism development. Villagers are well informed, communicated by the political cadres in relation to any decisions in the process of rural tourism development. Villagers’ satisfaction is taken as important issue for cadres’ political performance reviews. In addition, the funding of developing rural tourism in Luting is a collection of villagers’ contribution, government’s subsidies and some external investments. Generally, it finds that the Chinese local state tries to use sustainable tourism as approach in the rural area, in order to enhance the environment protection in rural area, increase visitors’ awareness in ruality, and help in the economic regeneration. However, economic objectives are often prevailed by the local state and by the individual political cadres.
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Session 7- Destination development and management (1)
Place: Main Room

Other activities in Session 7- Destination development and management (1)
15:20 h. to 15:40 h.Oral Communication

The Role of Tourism in the Rescue of Economically Marginal Traditional Agricultural Systems

Speaker: Kazem Vafadari, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
15:40 h. to 16:00 h.Oral Communication

Sustainable Tourism in Kerala – a role model for other societies in the world?

Speaker: Tatjana Thimm, HTWG Konstanz