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Chinese culture, tourism and a television series: Grand View Gardens, Beijing

Film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide. Popular films and television series shooting in a destination can be seen as a very efficient driver for attracting tourists. This thesis was conducted at a Chinese film set, Grand View Garden, Beijing from June 2013 to February 2014. The research site is not only a film set where the famous television series The Dream of the Red Mansion, an adaptation of the much loved novel of the same name, was shot, but it is also a site with profound cultural and heritage significance. This thesis attempts to examine and compare four relevant stakeholders’ attitudes to the Garden and their suggestions for the Garden’s future development. Within the film tourism research area, existing research studies mainly focus on western film sets, with few studies paying attention to Chinese film sets, and this includes even Chinese studies. This research study tried to investigate the relevant film stakeholders’ perceptions by adopting mixed methods, including Questionnaire research, Open-ended questions, Semi-structured interviews, Documents, Conversations, Observation, and Photography. The collected quantitative data was analyzed by SPSS software, while the qualitative data was analyzed using thematic analysis methods and textual analysis software. This thesis focused on four main stakeholders, namely: visitors, local residents, Grand View Garden Administration officers, and China Tourism Academy staff. For the visitor stakeholders, 1140 useful questionnaire copies were collected to examine visitors’ prior expectations and impressions of the Garden, the importance of different motivations for visitors, the degree of satisfaction derived from their visiting, and their thoughts about film tourism. Furthermore, 20 in-depth interviews were used to investigate visitors’ perceptions of and suggestions for the Garden, as well as supporting the quantitative results. For the local resident stakeholders, 20 in-depth interviews (using the same questions asked of visitor stakeholders) were employed to investigate the reasons for residents visiting the Garden, and to examine residents’ positive and negative perceptions about the site, and their suggestions. For the third stakeholder, the Garden’s administration officers, 10 interviews were used to explore site officers’ attitudes about the Garden’s past, its present, and its future. In addition, 10 interviews were adopted to investigate the China Tourism Academy staff’s perceptions about Chinese film tourism, and their suggestions for the Garden’s development direction. The findings revealed that visitors’ travel motivations and perceptions were quite different from those of local residents. The majority of visitors was aged between 17 and 30 years, and had a degree. The icons of The Dream of Red Mansions were the most important reasons for visitors to visit the Garden, but not the sole reason; both the relaxing and sightseeing motivators were also important to visitors. However, most residents were middle-aged and elderly, and were also retired, and they used the Garden as a recreational park, and came to relax, practice instruments, see performances, and do exercises. Most visitors and residents were satisfied with the Garden, and had positive perceptions such as enjoying the beautiful, quiet environment and the classical architecture. However, some negative perceptions were also identified. Visitors thought the Garden’s interpretation services were poor and questioned the authenticity of the Garden; while residents were concerned more about the Garden’s basic services and facilities, criticizing the low quality performances, unhygienic restrooms, and the lack of maintenance. Many visitors complained about the expensive ticket prices, and the high prices further caused ‘scalper ticket’ problems. However, the Garden’s Administration defended the expensive prices, saying that ticket sales formed the main part of the Garden’s revenue. Indeed, the Garden planned to cancel its Annual Ticket programme, as it was thought to be uneconomic in that it was a low revenue stream and did not compensate for the additional wear and tear on the facilities caused by the large number of visitors generated by the programme. This thesis took the four stakeholders’ suggestions for the Garden, and adopted a harmonious model to achieve the overall satisfaction of the relevant stakeholders (i.e. visitors, residents, and the site Administration). The research results found that most of the respondents were familiar with The Dream of the Red Mansion, and thought the Garden had significant cultural meaning. This study makes the following suggestions. Firstly, improving Red culture by: protecting and maintaining the original scenes; improving cultural and experience-liked activities and performances; and developing cultural products and souvenirs related to Red. Secondly, improving marketing strategies to promote attractions and attract visitors, such as using the economical and popular marketing tool Micro-blogging. Finally, improving service quality and facilities to meet both visitors’ and residents’ needs and demands, as well as protecting the heritage site.
Type of thesis
Zhang, X. (2015). Chinese culture, tourism and a television series: Grand View Gardens, Beijing (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9441
University of Waikato
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