- Tourism in China: representing the nation to English speaking tourists: A historical study of the development of tourism and the interpretive media encountered at five Beijing tourist sites
- Award date
- 3 February 2015
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES)
Since 1978, tourism in China has grown rapidly in terms of numbers of tourists and revenues. Although China is set to become the world’s major tourist receiving and tourist generating country, domestic tourism is presently the mainstay with over three billion visits in 2013. Tourism is not only of economic relevance but is also used as a soft power tool for building a national identity in which patriotism and a "harmonious society" are key ingredients. The idea of travel as a tool for education and acquiring moral values is not new. In fact, Confucius already wrote that travel should have a moral or educational purpose.
Ingredients of government ideology are also communicated to English speaking tourists as an analysis of the interpretive media at five major tourist sites (the Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, Forbidden City and the Summer Palace) in Beijing has demonstrated. Patriotism - visible in the use of superlatives, the emphasis on China’s "ancient" civilization and the humiliations caused by imperialist powers - as well as various aspects of the harmonious society concept are all present here. The interpretation not only gives rise to a sometimes rather vainglorious affirmation of China; by presenting mainly "facts", names and dates, it also decontextualizes these heritage monuments. Disengaged from their everyday surroundings and presented as islands in a past without ordinary people, without a daily life, and without an understanding of the "why" and "how", they seem - to a Western eye - rather empty and objectified.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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