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Comparisons of stakeholders' perceptions and attitudes of tourism impact in Mt Qiyun, Anhui Province, China

This thesis was conducted in Qiyun Mountain, Anhui Province from the commencement of November, 2012, to the end of May, 2013. Qiyun Mountain is well known for its long history of Taoism, its unique Danxian landscapes, numerous cliff inscriptions, and ancient Huizhou style of villagescapes. This thesis attempts to compare perceptions of tourism impacts from the perspectives of different stakeholders’ and their attitudes towards future tourism development and their suggestions for further sustainable tourism. While any application of Western literature on stakeholders’ perceptions of tourism impact in the context of a rural Taoism community in China may have limitations and currently many studies in the Chinese academic literature have focussed primarily on local communities and economic impacts, this study tried to obtain a grounded understanding of daily realities by adopting an ethnographic research method to collect data. This approach involved ‘Semi-structured interviews’, ‘Participant observation’, ‘Conversation’, ‘Field notes’, ‘Photography’, ‘Using secondary documentation’, and formal ‘Questionnaires’. Analysis of the interviews was based on thematic analysis methods and textual analysis software, while an analysis of survey data was undertaken using SPSS 20.0. This thesis has six main research objectives. The first is to investigate visitors’ perceptions of tourism impacts in Mt Qiyun, and their evaluations of Qiyun tourism. The second objective is to investigate the views of residents who live in ‘below mountain’ villages, and discover their attitudes to tourism development. The third objective therefore, investigates tourism impacts from the Qiyun People’s perceptions, that is, the residents who live in the mountain village that until now has been the core of the attraction. The fourth objective is to investigate the nature and degree of tourism impacts in Mt Qiyun from local governmental officials’ perceptions. The next objective is to simply compare the different perceptions and attitudes towards tourism impacts. Finally the thesis draws on the evidence and speculates in the context of the wider literature the extent to which it is possible to generalize from the study to a wider conceptualization of tourism impacts on Chinese communities. As outlined above, four stakeholder groups were chosen to be researched, and were classified as ‘residents who live on the mountain’, ‘ residents who live below the mountain’, ‘visitors’, ‘Government officials’. Thus, a large number of samples were obtained in this thesis. The total number of semi-structured interview from 4 different stakeholders reached 124 respondents, comprising 36 respondents from residents below the mountain, 28 respondents from residents on the mountain, 40 respondents from visitors, and 20 respondents from government officials. In addition three questionnaires were sent to three groups, namely residents below the mountain (n=768), residents on the mountain (n=75), visitors (n=1391). The findings firstly provide an insight into how stakeholders perceive tourism and its impacts in Mt Qiyun from environmental, social-cultural and economic perspectives. It is found that government officials are more likely to focus on the positive environmental impacts than other three stakeholders. Respondents drawn from the two resident groups both clearly realized the benefits and costs which tourism had brought to the local community. The mountain residents who frequently have contact with visitors mentioned the negative impacts created by a number of visitors’ activities. With reference to social-cultural impact, it can be seen that residents on the mountain are the most affected group when compared with the other three stakeholders. Both government and visitors have a low awareness of social-cultural impacts; and because visitors only stay a couple of hours, it is really difficult for them to deeply experience how tourism influences local life, culture, and value systems. For most government officials, they lived in Xiuning country, and just worked in Qiyun town; and most travel to the mountain only a few times per year. When assessing the residents below the mountain it was found that this group have more favourable perceptions than government and visitor groups, but lower than the residents on the mountain. Regarding economic impacts, except for residents below the mountain, stakeholders confirmed the positive role of tourism in benefiting the village and local area economically. Residents below the mountain showed their dissatisfaction over many economic items, and strongly agreed with a view that tourism development leads to an ‘unbalanced industry structure’, ‘unfairness of income distribution’, ‘higher living expenses’ and ‘increases the income gaps between rich and poor’. Secondly, all stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction for different reasons about the current state of Qiyun tourism. Yet all hope the mountain could be developed yet further rather than simply sustain the current level of tourism activities. It suggested that to sustain rural community tourism, every stakeholder needs to be considered; especially those of local residents. Residents should be encouraged to not only enjoy participation in the sharing of tourism economic benefits, but also have some opportunities to say something in the decision making process. The thesis also describes a ‘social harmony’ model in the Qiyun Mountain area with respect to social-cultural, political, economic and environmental issues.
Type of thesis
Li, P. (2013). Comparisons of stakeholders’ perceptions and attitudes of tourism impact in Mt Qiyun, Anhui Province, China (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8116
University of Waikato
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