Since the first introduction of the concept to China in 1992, as an important part of tourism research, ecotourism studies have made a number of progresses, ranging from theoretical discussion to practical implementation, and continuously provided professional guidance to tourism markets and given rise to the great progress of ecotourism development in China. At present, given the public attention on ecological civilization construction, further demands are made of ecotourism research. This article uses a systematic review method and search results from all Chinese core journals database to examine the research progress of ecotourism. We selected 1493 papers published in 1992 to 2015 and analyzed the following six aspects of Chinese ecotourism research: ecotourism theory, ecotourism resources, ecotourism market, ecotourism development, ecotourism functions and effects, and management and policy. This article aims to clarify the diverse development periods from the introduction of ecotourism concepts to the mushrooming of local ecotourism practices, and provide an overview of Chinese ecotourism. The article concludes with the prospects of ecotourism research topics in China, including theoretical framework of ecotourism, ecotourism impact measurement and management, ecotourism models and strategies, ecotourism resource management, ecotourism market and tourist behavior, environmental education and interpretation, assessment and optimization of community participation, ecological civilization construction and ecotourism, and so on.
Toilet as an indispensable element of tourism, showcases a nation’s civilization and reflects the comprehensive strength of the destination area. It is an important issue to address in the process of tourism development in China under the current background of ecological civilization construction. Taking Suzhou as an example and using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), this study builds a model of toilet influence on tourist satisfaction and proposes an innovative tourism toilet development model. The results show that: (1) Layout planning, basic function, detailed design, toilet culture, use of science and technology, and management were positively correlated with tourist satisfaction, while toilet education showed a negative correlation; (2) Layout planning had the greatest influence on satisfaction with a coefficient of 0.51, followed by management and basic function. The use of science and technology had the smallest impact on satisfaction; (3) The study built an innovative tourism toilet development model with a supply and demand layer from the point of view of the government and tourists; a conceptual layer including education, humanitarian, experiential, management, cultural, innovation, technological, and ecological concepts; a planning layer consisting of awareness-raising, basic work, and advanced planning; and a target layer including making tourism toilet a toilet space, showcasing urban civilization, and providing a place for relaxation, in order to provide references for comprehensive upgrading of tourism toilets in China.
Environmental ethics is a key concept in the development of human-nature relationship. Sustainable tourism has become a research focus in the past decades, but researchers argue that mainstream tourism is still far from sustainable as any movements towards sustainable tourism behavior depends on further advancement in environmental ethics. Through extensive and critical literature review based on the main databases in English and Chinese, this article discusses the conceptual development of environmental ethics, the influencing factors of environmental ethics, and the effect of environmental ethics on sustainable tourism behavior. The results suggest that the conceptual framework of environmental ethics includes environmental morality, environmental attachment, and environmental belief. Most studies did not differentiate environmental ethics and environmental belief. The New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) by Dunlap et al. is often used to examine environmental ethics and environmental belief, but there is a lack of consistency in the measurement of environmental attachment, therefore, different research findings are reported for environmental attachment. The most direct influencing factors to environmental ethics is value system as it deeply influences attitude, belief, norm, and behavior. Due to different value systems, people often have different attitudes towards the environment and resource management. Value Basis Theory (
Stern and Dietz 1994
) and Value-Belief-Norm (
Stern et al. 1999
) are often used in explaining environmental attitudes. Social-cultural factors are also key in shaping environmental ethics but this is often a under researched area. Other factors including religion, education, media, policy, and migration experiences within countries and abroad all contribute to the development of a person’s environmental ethics. Among the studies on environmental ethics and sustainable tourism, environmental attitude and environmental behavior in the tourism context have become a research focus. A variety of qualitative and quantitative methods have been used by western researchers, while Chinese scholars mainly focus on conceptual studies. Current studies frequently focus on environmental behavior while less consideration is given to the principles of sustainability, justice, and harmony in sustainable tourism. Future studies could focus on the following areas: (1) the measurement of the connotations of environmental ethics; (2) the influencing factors of environmental ethics; (3) the conceptual definition and measurement of sustainable tourism behavior; (4) the influence of cultural factors on environmental ethics and sustainable tourism behavior; and (5) the influencing mechanism and effect of environmental ethics on sustainable tourism behavior using quantitative and qualitative methods, contributing to the conceptual development and case studies of advancing ecological civilization from theory to practice.
Siting of recreational eco-space in a city plays an important role in the development of urban recreation, and is significance for creating a high quality living environment for the residents. In order to provide theoretical support for recreational eco-space siting in urban areas, this article, taking Changshu City, Jiangsu Province—a national pilot site of recreational city comprehensive evaluation standards—as the study case and the demographic characteristics of the city as the starting point, examined the distribution of different age group of the population in various urban functional areas, analyzed the time that can be used for recreation by the urban population and their willingness to engage in ecological recreation, and the recreation preference of different age groups for various recreational eco-space. We also calculated the demand index for recreational eco-space in different urban areas. Demographic characteristics, which significant differ in various urban areas, had great influence on urban recreational eco-space demand, wherein the impact of the scale of population flow was most significant. The population in different urban areas had varied requirements for different types of recreational eco-space. Affected by the size of the population, ecological recreation potential, and preference for different types of recreational eco-space, demand for recreational eco-space in commercial district was the highest, followed by residential district, office district, and industrial district. The population in each urban functional area had the greatest demand for grass area for recreation, followed by water and woodland. Population size, age groups, distribution, and demand for recreational eco-space should be used to guide the recreational eco-space siting practice in urban planning and constructing, and are useful information for improving the quality of life for urban residents.
Interpretation is an important means to fulfill the requirement of environmental education in ecotourism. There have been a large number of theories and successful practical experiences in the research and industry development of interpretation in the Western societies. Based on three key elements of interpretation—resources, audience, and media—and in accordance with the regional differentiation rules, principles of ecology, and environmental determinism theory, this article analyzes the causes of ecotourism interpretation differences between China and Western countries. The results showed that: influenced by the value orientation of separating humans and nature, the Western conception tried to keep the “pure nature” characteristics in ecotourism. The marine culture resulted in the Western tradition of spatial expansion and mysteries of nature, and the media design highlighted the importance of benefiting the public in the long-run and encouraged the participation of various stakeholders. The traditional Chinese aesthetic values embraced man as an integral part of nature and harmony between man and nature, and thus the Chinese welcomed the combination of natural and cultural resources in ecotourism. The agrarian tradition resulted in the stable and quiet personality of the Chinese people, who often lack interest in exploring the unknown. Requirement on the forms exceeded that on the contents concerning the media design, and more focus was placed on the short-term benefits. The article proposes the ways to localize ecotourism interpretation in China, including identifying feasible objectives of ecotourism interpretation, tapping those resources with dual values, locating the characteristics and types of the audience, regulating and standardizing the media design, among others.
In this contribution I provide a foreigner’s perspective on the growth and development of outdoor tourism in China over the past three decades or more. This is the perspective of someone who does not speak Chinese, but who has been privileged to visit some of China’s outstanding outdoor tourism destinations over an extended period, and observe social, economic and environmental changes as they took place. A foreigner’s perspective is always more limited than that of Chinese scholars, but it may still provide a useful counterpart. I describe three main historical phases. The first took place in the 1980s, before the development of large scale domestic or inbound international tourism. I provide some historical anecdotes which may be of interest to Chinese university students. The second phase was the gradual opening of China to international inbound tourism, and its inclusion as a favoured destination by global tourists. The third phase has two components: the enormous growth of Chinese domestic tourism, largely in cultural and economic isolation from the international tourism industry; and the simultaneous growth of Chinese outbound tourism, closely linked to the international industry. China now has a very large domestic outdoor tourism sector, and a much smaller but nonetheless significant international inbound sector. The former includes: visits to scenic parks, nature reserves, forest reserves, and traditional cultural sites; specialist Chinese adventure activities such as piaoliuziyou; and internationally widespread outdoor mountain activities such as trekking and mountaineering, and outdoor coastal activities such as surfing and kiteboarding. The latter includes, e.g., climbing Mt. Everest from the northern side; rafting in Tibet, Yunnan and Szechuan; off-road and bicycle tours, and riverboat cruises. From a research perspective, the key issue for foreigners is that whilst many Chinese scholars can read English, and many International publications are translated to Chinese, the reverse does not apply: few foreigners are familiar with the Chinese language, and hence with the Chinese academic literature. From a foreign researcher’s perspective, therefore, cooperative projects with Chinese colleagues are of enormous value. As regards research topics in outdoor tourism, there are three broad approaches which can perhaps prove valuable in future. The first is to ensure that innovations in the international literature are also applied in China, as immediately as possible. That is, China should benefit from global research, and China should be included in international comparative studies. That can only occur if relevant research in China is published in internationally accessible journals. The second is that since China now forms a very large component in global tourism, as well as in the world economy and population more broadly, it is critical for foreign researchers that they can gain access to Chinese research findings. Foreign researchers understand that outdoor tourism in China is influenced by scale, history and culture, but they are not yet in a position to follow how those factors influence the many rapid changes occurring within the Chinese domestic tourism sector. We would like to know more, and understand better. As just one example, China now has a surf tourism subsector. Where does that fit into the international surfing industry? The third is that as more and more Chinese outdoor tourists travel overseas, their culturally driven expectations may not always match what international tourism enterprises provide. Chinese clients are influencing the outdoor tourism industry in other countries; and when they return home, they may also influence the outdoor tourism industry within China. The role of tourism in these cultural exchanges and interactions provides fascinating opportunities for social science research at present.