Exploring the Global-Local Gap in Chinese Tourism: A Place Making Perspective

Mr Zhikang Wang1

1Department of Geography, University Of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong


A gap usually exists between global norms of the tourism industry and local particularities at the toured places. While various researches have examined implications of this so-called “global-local gap” worldwide, research into the gap within the context of Chinese tourism is inadequate. Drawing on theories of glocalization and “place making” in tourism, this study explores the case of Dongao Island, a resort island in southern China; and is informed by fieldwork involving participatory observation and in-depth interviews with tourists, locals, practitioners and government officials. This study analyses both the top-down “placemaking” and bottom-up “place-making” processes across three dimensions, namely the physical, the practical and the mental. Findings suggest that gaps exist not only 1) between the top-down and the bottom-up, i.e. the globally-recognized norms of tourism development and the locally-specific Chinese tourist experiences and community participation in tourism; but also 2) within the top-down placemaking process itself, between the strategies of global tourism ventures and the visions of the Chinese state. These results may contribute to broader theoretical debates on theories of place making in geography while empirically contributing to knowledge of the global-local nexus within Chinese tourism.


Mr. WANG, Zhikang is an MPhil student in the Department of Geography at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests lie in tourism geographies and Chinese tourism, with a current focus on theories of place and island tourism within China.

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