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Sustainable Tourism Development of Landscape Heritage in a Rural Community:
A Case Study of Azheke Village at China Hani Rice Terraces

Lin Zhang* and William Stewart

College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

* Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT  According to the World Heritage Convention, rural landscapes are evolving cultural landscapes and their heritage and management is a major international concern. The proposal of ‘UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism (WH+ST)’ has enlightened different arguments about protection and utilization of the value of rural landscape heritage. The Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of rural landscapes results from the interaction of nature and humankind. Local community residents are critical for the sustainable tourism development of rural landscape heritage. Landscapes would lose their authenticity and integrity without participation of community residents. At the same time tourism is promoting the economic development of communities, tourism will affect its natural environment and social culture in varying extents. Because of such impacts, rural landscapes are subject to the risk of becoming overly commercialised. In this sense, the discussion will focus on how to achieve balance among the various forces stemming from protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of rural heritage, economic development and sustainable community-based tourism. This paper is based on field research at the World Heritage Hani Rice Terraces at Azheke Village (Yunnan Province, China). At this site, the agricultural landscape, architectural design, rural culture, and social traditions have confronted challenges because of the rapid development of the tourism industry soon after designation as a World Heritage Site in 2013. The planning was carried out in respect of three key problems: 1) How to motivate community residents’ sense of recognition and honour of the heritage value? 2) How to create the manner and approach for the community residents to participate in rural sustainable tourism? and 3) How to improve the social residents’ interests in the course of developing rural heritage tourism? Specific planning measures and suggestions have also been proposed in hopes that community residents take the initiative to protect, utilize and undertake the Outstanding Universal Value of the Hani Rice Terraces.

KEYWORDS  rural landscape, world heritage, sustainable tourism, community participation

Received March 17, 2017; accepted December 11, 2017.

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