Title: Rural tourism and poverty alleviation: the case of Nujiang, Yunnan, China

Authors: Li Yang

Addresses: Geography Department, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA

Abstract: Rural tourism emerged in China in the late 1980s as a development strategy to combat poverty, to minimise regional inequality and to modernise the conditions of rural, remote areas where ethnic minority people live. This study examines rural tourism and poverty alleviation in the Chinese context and explores the role of community-based tourism activities to secure and improve people's livelihoods, using a 'tourist model village' - Zhongding in Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China, as a case study. The study reveals that although tourism has generated some additional income for local people, there are limits to its potential. Tourism impacts are substantial for the few people who directly benefit, but most residents have not benefited much from tourism development due to lack of capital, business skills and connections. There is great potential for improvement in the system of public support and local entrepreneurship. The study raises the question whether tourism initiatives truly contribute to improving the standards of living of the poor. Alternative livelihoods other than tourism may be needed.

Keywords: rural tourism; poverty alleviation; tourism impacts; ethnic communities; China; regional inequality; community-based tourism; direct benefits; tourism development; lack of capital; business skills; connections; public support; local entrepreneurship; living standards.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2015.074006

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2015 Vol.4 No.4, pp.343 - 366

Received: 16 Sep 2014
Accepted: 28 Feb 2015

Published online: 02 Jan 2016 *

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