Sustainable Tourism Development for Post-earthquake Re-construction of the Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan, China
Dr CHEUNG Ting On Lewis (Assistant Professor,SSC)
The Wolong National Nature Reserve has been struck by the catastrophic earthquake event in 2008 and caused severe loss of lives and properties. The developing tourism industry of the Nature Reserve is seriously affected due to the large scale destruction of tourism infrastructures. After 7 years of re-construction of the infrastructures including some tourism facilities, the community is under a standby mode for receiving tourists again and waiting for the final completion of the main road in late 2016.
A household questionnaire survey have been administrated in early 2014 and the results indicated that local residents were highly optimistic and held high expectations about the nature-based tourism development that could bring a lot of economic benefits for them. Structural Equation Model (SEM) has been adopted to test the association between perceived economic impacts and cost of local residents and their willingness to support (WTS) for the development and found that perceived economic benefit did not indicated significant association with WTS, but the perceived economic cost indicated negative association with WTS. Two mediators namely “improvement of living environment” and ‘degradation of living environment” have been added into the model that could eventually connect the missing link between the perceived economic benefits and residents’ WTS. The findings highlighted that the importance of actual economic benefit is an important determinant to predict the WTS of the local residents. On the contrary, the construct of ‘degradation of living environment’ is not a significant determinant to predict their WTS as the local residents’ decline to participate once they realize that the development project would possibly cause negative impact on their living environment. “Seeing is believing” is of course expected for the economic benefit, but not important for the local residents on the negative impacts. Recommendations on ecotourism policies were suggested to ensure sustainable development of the nature reserve.
Apart from the introduction of a scientific research, the second part of the seminar will introduce how these research findings can inform ecotourism policies and the process of implementation of the those ecotourism policies. (Presentation PDF)