|Transformation of urban historic districts into tourism and recreational attraction areas : a tale of two case studies in China
|Ap, John (SHTM)
|Tourism -- China.
Urbanization -- China.
Heritage tourism -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
|School of Hotel and Tourism Management
|xiii, 371 pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 30 cm
|The tourism urbanization process has been accelerated by global forces. The shifts from production to consumption are influences in the built environment and in their local culture, particularly. This is most acute in places of heritage value where the local culture with its built heritage is being transformed into a product for tourist consumption in the city core areas (Noha, 2003). China is not an exception to inevitable influences of the urbanization process. With a population of 1.3 billion, it faces unprecedented urbanization challenges, which brings about dramatic changes to the urban fabric and city skyline. With numerous urban renewal projects, a conventional form of functional transition, has been implemented at city core and downtown areas. Urban regeneration is considered to be an instrumental mode for adaptation to new uses and space claims through integrating tourism for urban transformation. Because of the top-down planning approach, which is dominant in Mainland China, a majority of regeneration or redevelopment projects is undertaken with little or even no participatory public involvement. Political or administrative rationality outweighs the principle of market economy together with blurred division in many cases between governance and business operation. Cultural heritage resources and historic district capabilities for transformation are partially determined by the role of government, which is influenced by the nature and characteristics of a country, its legislative and legal framework, and policies relevant to urban transformation and heritage conservation. This study aims to examine the transformation of historical and cultural conservation districts in urban areas with regeneration or redevelopment projects. It is conducted to examine and clarify the following research questions: 1) How does an urban historic district evolve and formulate its landscape during a regeneration and/or redevelopment project? 2) What are the visitors’ perceptions and interpretation of the transformation in terms of its tourism-recreational use or consumption? and 3) What facilitates and/or constrains transformation of a historic district as a successful tourism or leisure area?
A descriptive research design, employing a qualitative and case study approach was adopted to explore how historic districts transform and evolve into a tourism-recreation district or destination attraction. Two cases in Guangdong Province, China, were examined in this thesis study. Three stages of data collection were undertaken. Starting with the purpose of reconstructing the transformation process, the first stage was aimed at describing and examining the process of urban regeneration from its initial phase to present day status. The second stage concentrated on examining the issues or problems which arose or were encountered by the project developers and managers. The third and last stage was designed to gather information from the tourists’ perspective, exploring how they perceive, interpret, use, and experience the transformed historic districts. Secondary data analysis, observation, casual conversations, semi-structured and in-depth interviews, and focus groups were the methods used for data collection. Context analysis was employed and the NVivo 10 software was used in the qualitative data analysis process. Other important types of data analysis, such as memo writing and coding categories were also deployed. In order to achieve trustworthiness of this research, the right informants, multiple interviews, a triangulation strategy, and member checking involving feedback from participants, were adopted for the coding system and interpretation of the data. The findings addresses the significance of macro-environmental factors determining both material and symbolic transformation of a districts’ historic, cultural, and ecological resources into tourism-recreation resources. Legal factors identified in the study include the system of socialist land ownership, state-own property tenure, the laws and regulations on cultural relics, governance and supervision of heritage conservation. Some societal phenomenon characterized as social realities, such as the delayed response from both the market and the suppliers, lack of adoption of market principles, long-term non-empowerment of citizens, are also addressed. Last. but not the least, cultural influences derived from collectivism and aesthetic preference; and advanced technology enables the reproduction of historic landscape were also recognized. Governance and sense of place were two concepts identified as key factors affecting how a historic district is transformed. Relevant issues and themes, including ‘vanity projects’, ‘trust partnership’ between the public and private sectors, the modernization of historic landscape with real estate development, demonstrate the impact of the top-down approach on historic district transformation.
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