The role of self-gentrification in sustainable tourism: Indigenous entrepreneurship at Honghe Hani Rice Terraces World Heritage Site, China

Jin Hooi Chan*, Katia Iankova, Ying Zhang, Tom McDonald, Xiaoguang Qi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines three forms of tourism gentrification within the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan, China. The Indigenous Hani and Yi communities who populate this remote mountainous area possess distinct cultural practices that have supported the rice terrace ecosystem for centuries. This article uses interviews and non-participant observation conducted with inhabitants and newcomers to analyse the gentrification within the site. We argue that Indigenous cultural practices, and consequently rice cultivation in the area, are threatened by gentrifier-led and state-led gentrification, combined with high levels of outward migration of Indigenous persons. This poses a significant threat to the sustainability of tourism there, to the survival of the traditions and culture of the Indigenous inhabitants and could compromise the site's World Heritage Status. Some Indigenous people are, however, improving their socio-economic standing – and becoming “middle-class” or “gentry” – particularly through adopting entrepreneurial strategies gleaned from their encounters with outside-gentrifiers and tourists. This article proposes the concept of “self-gentrification” as a way to describe individuals who seek to improve themselves and their own communities, while threatened by gentrification, and offers ways to promote that concept to help conserve both heritage landscapes and Indigenous ways of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1279
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Volume24
Issue number8-9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Keywords

  • Indigenous
  • Self-gentrification
  • World Heritage Site
  • entrepreneurship
  • sustainability
  • tourism gentrification

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