Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 962–975 | Cite as

Conserving agricultural heritage systems through tourism: Exploration of two mountainous communities in China

  • Ye-hong Sun
  • Mary Jane Dela Cruz
  • Qing-wen Min
  • Mou-cheng LiuEmail author
  • Ling-yun Zhang


Community plays an important role in the preservation of agricultural heritage system (AHS). Recently, many AHS have been valorized as interesting resources for rural tourism. The expectations are that tourism development (TD) can be supportive for the conservation of AHS while creating benefits for local communities. In this study, two mountainous pilot villages (Longxian and Xiaohuang) in a global conservation project for traditional agricutural systems — Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) were selected to identify the relationship between AHS conservation and TD. The study undertook in-depth interviews, and questionnaires of village residents and informal discussions with local villagers. A t-test and a linear regression model were implemented to explore the comparative dimensions of the two communities with different geographical location, economic situation, and stage of TD. The research found some similarities and differences in the two mountainous communities during AHS conservation and TD. Firstly, AHS are preservaed well in both villages unconsiously, while the residents in Xiaohuang value more highly the heritage elements than the respondents in Longxian, and the villagers in Xiaohuang are more worried about their heritage system; Secondly, both villages expect lots of benefits from TD and they clearly perceive more positive than negative impact from tourism and thus approve TD, while the huge different perception on transportation and accessibility in the two villages reflects the bottleneck of TD in Xiaohuang village. At the same time, the respondents from Xiaohuang perceive more positive and fewer negative impact from tourism than the respondents from Longxian. Thirdly, the respondents in the two villages all show positive attitudes towards participation in tourism mostly motivated by the high income expectation. The main factors to determine the community perception in two villages were also analyzed based on the data process. A location-based conceputal framework of AHS conservation in partnership with TD at community scale is proposed at the end of the paper. The dynamics of tourism development, that could enhance a better understanding of the complex relationship between conservation objectives and tourism development are discussed.


Agricultural heritage system Tourism development Mountainous communities Zhejiang Province Guizhou Province China 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altieri, MA (2004) Towards a methodological framework for implementing the GIAHS process in target sites: suggested guidelines and tips. FAO Working Paper, Draft No. 2, June 2004. Available online: (accessed on 8 September 2007).Google Scholar
  2. Altieri MA, Koohafkan P (2008) Enduring Farms: Climate Change, Smallholders and Traditional Farming Communities. Environment and Development Series 6. Penang, Malaysia, Third World Network (TWN).Google Scholar
  3. Alzue A, O’Leary J, Morrison AM (1998) Cultural and heritage tourism: identifying niches for international travelers. The Journal of Travel and Tourism Studies, 9(2): 2–13.Google Scholar
  4. Bramwell B, Lane B (1994) Rural tourism and sustainable rural development. London, Channel View.Google Scholar
  5. Butler RW (1980) The concept of tourism area cycle of evolution: implications for management of resources. The Canadian Geographer 24: 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Catibog-Sinhaa C (2010) Biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism: Philippine initiatives. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 5(4): 297–309. DOI: 10.1080/1743873X.2010.517841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen C, Chen P (2010) Resident Attitudes toward Heritage Tourism Development. Tourism Geographies 12(4):525–545. DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2010.516398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Donert K, Light D (1996) Capitalizing on location and heritage: Tourism and economic reorganization. In Argentiere La Basse, High French Alps, in: L. Harrison, & W. Husbands (Eds) Practicing responsible tourism: 193–215. Brisbane, Wiley.Google Scholar
  9. Dramstad WE, Fry G, Fjellstad WJ, et al, (2001) Integrating Landscape-based values-Norwegian Monitoring of agriculture landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 57: 257–268. DOI: 10.1016/S0169-2046(01)00208-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fleischer A, Felsenstein D (2000) Support rural tourism: Does it Make a Difference? Annals of Tourism Research, 27(4): 1007–1024. DOI: 10.1016/S0160-7383(99)00126-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fleischer A, Pizam A (1997) Rural tourism in Israel. Tourism Management, 18(6): 367–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) (2008) Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). Available online: (Accessed on 6 April 2008).Google Scholar
  13. Guo H (2006) Develop rural tourism and build the new countryside. Tourism Tribune 21(3): 6–7. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  14. Herbert D (2001) Literary places, tourism and the heritage experience. Annals of Tourism Research, 28(2): 312–333. DOI: 10.1016/S0160-7383(00)00048-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hjalager AM (1996) Agricultural diversification into tourism. Tourism Management 17(2): 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Inskeep E (1991) Tourism planning: An integrated and sustainable development approach. New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  17. Jansen-Verbeke M, Makercher B (2010) The tourism destiny of World Heritage cultural sites. Pearce DG, Butler RW. Tourism Research: A 20-20 Vision. Goodfellow Publishers Limited, Woodeaton, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. Lankford SV (1994) Attitudes and perceptions toward tourism and rural regional development. Journal of Travel Research, 31(3): 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li GP, Wang XJ (2003) The review and prospect of the agricultural history research in China. Ancient and modern Agriculture, 3:70–86. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Liu A (2006) Tourism in rural areas: Kedah, Malaysia. Tourism Management, 27: 878–889. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2005.05.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCarthy J (1994) Are sweet dreams made of this? Tourism in Bali and Eastern Indonesia. Northcote, Victoria: IRIP.Google Scholar
  22. McKercher B, Ho PSY, DuCros H (2005) Relationship between tourism and cultural heritage management: Evidence from Hong Kong. Tourism Management, 26: 539–548. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2004.02.018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Min QW, Sun YH, Schoubroeck F, et al. (2009) GIAHS-Rice-Fish Culture: China Project Framework. Resources Science, 31(1): 11–20.Google Scholar
  24. Murphy PE (1985) Tourism: A Community Approach. New York and London, Methuen.Google Scholar
  25. Nyaupane GP, Poudel S (2011) Linkages among biodiversity, livelihood, and tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 38(4): 1344–1366. DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2011.03.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Perales RM (2002) Rural tourism in Spain. Annals of Tourism Research, 29(4): 1101–1110. DOI: 10.1016/S0160-7383(02)00025-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rockström J, Steffen W, Noone K (2009) A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461: 472–475. DOI: 10.1038/461472a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ryan C, Montgomery D (1994) The attitudes of Bakewell residents to tourism and issues in community responsive tourism. Tourism Management 15(5): 358–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sharpley R, Jepson D (2011) Rural tourism: A spiritual experience? Annals of Tourism Research 38(1): 52–71. DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2010.05.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Su B (2011) Rural tourism in China. Tourism Management, 32: 1438–1441. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2010.12.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sun W, Han XX, Sheng KR, Fan J (2012) Geographical Differences and Influencing Factors of Rural Energy Consumption in Southwest Mountain Areas in China: A Case Study of Zhaotong City. Journal of Mountain Sciences, 9: 842–852. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-012-2355-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sun YH (2010) Tourism potential in Agricultural Heritage System sites. Doctoral Dissertation, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Beijing. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  33. Sun YH, Jansen-Verbeke M, Min QW, Cheng SK (2011a) Tourism Potential of Agricultural Heritage Systems. Tourism Geographies, 13(1): 112–128. DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2010.516400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sun YH, Min QW, Cheng SK (2009) Residents’ attitudes towards tourism in a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems pilot site: a case study in China. Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment 7(1): 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sun YH, Min QW, Cheng SK, Zhong LS, Qi XB (2011b) Study on the tourism resources characteristics of agricultural heritage. Tourism Tribune 25(10):57–62. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Tao TC, Wall G (2009) Tourism as a sustainable livelihood strategy. Tourism Management, 30: 90–98. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2008.03.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Taylor G (1995) The community approach: does it really work? Tourism Management 16(7): 487–489. DOI: 10.1016/0261-5177(95)00078-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Timothy DJ, Boyd SW (2003) Heritage Tourism. London, Pearson Education Limited.Google Scholar
  39. Tosun C (1999) Towards a typology of community participation in the tourism development process. International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality 10: 113–134. DOI: 10.1080/13032917.1999.9686975.Google Scholar
  40. Tosun C (2000) Limits to community participation in the tourism development process in developing countries. Tourism Management 21(6): 613–614. DOI: 10.1016/S0261-5177(00)00009-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tosun C (2006) Expected nature of community participation in tourism development. Tourism Management 27:493–504. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2004.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wang LE, Cheng SK, Zhong LS, et al. (2013) Rural Tourism Development in China: Principles, Models and the Future. Journal of mountain science 10: 116–129. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-013-2501-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yoon Y, Gursoy D, Chen JS (2001) Validating a tourism development theory with structural equation modeling. Tourism Management 22(4): 363–372. DOI: 10.1016/S0261-5177(00)00062-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zapata MJ, Hall CM, Lindo P, et al. (2011) Can communitybased tourism contribute to development and poverty alleviation? Lessons from Nicaragua. Current Issues in Tourism 14(8): 725–749. DOI: 10.1080/13683500.2011.559200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zou TQ (2005) The rural tourism model: the comparison and countermeasures analysis on Chengdu’s happy in farmer’s family and Beijing’s folk-custom tourism. In: Editorial Department of Tourism Tribune 005 English Edition, (ed.), Chinese tourism research Annual 2006 (142–156). Social Sciences Academic Press, Beijing, China.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ye-hong Sun
    • 1
  • Mary Jane Dela Cruz
    • 2
  • Qing-wen Min
    • 3
  • Mou-cheng Liu
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ling-yun Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of TourismBeijing Union UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Land and Water Division, Natural Resources and Environment Management DepartmentFood and Agriculture OrganizationRomeItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources researchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations