Heritage and Tourism Conflict Within World Heritage Sites in China: A Longitudinal Study

Chaozhi Zhang
Alan Fyall, University of Central Florida
Yanfen Zheng


Although the conflicting relationship between heritage and tourism has been debated at length in the Western academic literature, interest in the relationship is now becoming increasingly pronounced across the developing world with particular interest noted in China. To examine this phenomenon further, this study explores the cause and temporal variation of conflicts between heritage and tourism over the past decade in China. Content analysis was adopted as the most appropriate methodology for the study with data from online media reports serving as the primary data for the analysis of the occurrence of heritage and tourism conflicts in China. The findings highlight antiquated management structures, inappropriate tourism operations, and the ineffective use or deficiency of legislation as the primary causes of heritage and tourism conflicts in China with the categories of conflicts varying from clashes relating to resource use to clashes over values. The findings also shed light on the significant role played by the media in the resolution of conflicts. Finally, implications and limitations of the study's findings are discussed.