Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Sustainable tourism--China; Rural tourism--China; Rural tourism; Sustainable tourism; China; Academic theses;


The purpose of this study was to assess sustainability of rural tourism practices in heritage, ecological, and ethnic communities in southeastern China, using sustainable tourism development indicators. The rural tourism communities selected for this study were Tengtou Village in Fenghua, Zhuge Bagua County in Lanxi, and She Minority Village in E Shan Tonglu, representing examples of domestic rural tourism initiatives in China. This study applied the 2004 WTO sustainability indicator model to develop appropriate indicators for assessing sustainability of rural tourism practices in the selected communities, and aimed at answering the following research questions. First, what indicators would be most appropriate for assessing sustainability of rural tourism practices in heritage, ecological, and ethnic communities in China? Second, what needs to be done in order to establish a monitoring system of rural tourism sustainability in China? Third, what rural development policies could be suggested in China? Even though it is considered to be the most applied and comprehensive model, the WTO framework needs to be modified in order to build tailored lists of sustainability indicators for specific tourism destinations. This is a longitudinal process with the combined effort of the local government, tourism operators, local residents, and visitors. Rural tourism development in China is still in its infancy, and borrowing experiences, academic research, and effective local participation are important to establish a development sustainability monitoring system. Rural tourism is perceived as an important and effective mechanism to advance rural development that has always been one of the priorities of the nation's social and economic development policies in China. To better encourage and evaluate rural tourism performances, evaluation criteria and testing standards of awarding are to be established, revised, or widely communicated. Moreover, policies are suggested to guarantee the awarding process just, fair and open. It could help motivate lower level of tourism practitioners, as well as local people and visitors, to take an active and effective role on day-to-day basis, not only nominal participation.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Oksana Grybovych

Second Advisor

Samuel V. Lankford

Third Advisor

Joseph Wilson


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Date Original


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