The characteristics of Chinese tourism in Tibetan areas
Chinese tourism is mostly oriented on sightseeing.
This means that only places with famous scenic spots or interesting monuments like major monasteries can benefit from it. One of the major assets of the Tibetan areas is its mountains. However, the Han Chinese need monumental stairs to climb mountains.
There are some attempts to build stairs which lead up to Tibetan mountain tops, but the result is less than impressive:
Since Chinese tourists will seldom venture very far from the place where the bus left them, there are little chances that local farmers and herders can benefit directly from tourist activities.
Anyway, direct contact with local people who live in remote places is made difficult by their limited Chinese language mastery.
On the other hand, Chinese tourists have contributed a lot to developing the tourism infrastructure in a great number of places.
Chinese economic growth will presumably go on over the next decades with near certainty; the number of tourists will increase accordingly.
However, we can expect the Chinese society to evolve from today's work-centered society to a leisure society.
It is difficult to evaluate what consequences this will have on the behavior of tourists in Tibet, but we can predict a more positive relationship with nature.
This would bring the preferences of Chinese tourists much closer to the characteristics of Western tourists at least in some points.
More and more Chinese enjoy the Western style of mountain and ski resort tourism.
They would certainly appreciate if they could get something similar close to home.
Another issue which is becoming more and more important in China is the issue of branding. Food safety is a good example.
Many Chinese don't trust the highly productive lowland agriculture and look for alternatives. However, buying organically grown products is always a question of trust: you cannot know from just looking at the product how many chemical pesticides and fertilizer were used to grow it.
The Research project outline: Tourism in the Tibetan areas, © Otto Kölbl December 2012 7 same is true for other aspects of tourism: is a small souvenir really made by local farmers, or has it been mass-produced in factories in the Chinese lowland?
What is the comfort and hygiene standard offered by a hotel booked online? Branding and certification organizations can help to introduce reliable quality standards into the tourism industry.
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