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Promoting Sustainability Through Increased Community Involvement: The Shangri-La Ecotourism Demonstration Project

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Abstract:

Tourism in Yunnan has a short history; however, many destinations in this region already exhibit substantial cultural and natural degradation. The increased awareness of these negative tourism impacts has led Yunnan's provincial government to sponsor the Shangri-La Ecotourism Demonstration Project (SLED); a project focused on promoting sustainable development of ecotourism in Shangri-La with involvement of the host community. This article describes the SLED project's limitations and accomplishments. The first stage of the project explored factors constraining local residents from becoming involved in the tourism industry and outlined strategies and policies necessary to overcome those constraints. The second stage addressed infrastructure improvements, training of villagers in basic hospitality skills, and the introduction of key tourism policies. A follow-up assessment revealed that the project interventions resulted in increased awareness for the need to preserve local culture and the natural environment. Moreover, the project interventions helped in some instances to bring villagers together to work collaboratively on tourism-related projects. Contrary to this, however, pressures from the tourism retail and lodging sectors and lack of support by the local government led to environmental and cultural degradation, unfair distribution of economic gains, and conflict between community segments.

Keywords: CHINA; COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT; ECOTOURISM; PARTICIPATORY RURAL APPRAISAL; SHANGRI-LA

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/154427206779307187

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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