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The impacts of world cultural heritage site designation and heritage tourism on community livelihoods: A Chinese case study

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Yalu Liu, Ying Wang, Karine Dupre, Cathy McIlwaine

Original languageEnglish
Article number100994
JournalTourism Management Perspectives
PublishedJul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to thank Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) for supporting the development of this article. Our thanks are also extended to the anonymous peer reviewers and the journal editor, who offered insightful comments to improve this work. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd

King's Authors


This article examines how cultural heritage conservation, often reflective of Western values, impacts local sustainable livelihoods (SL) in a living cultural heritage site. The article argues for the modification of the SL framework for analysing cultural heritage tourism through including an explicit focus on the transforming structures and processes of local livelihoods in Fujian tulou, China, a World Cultural Heritage Site. Drawing on data collected through in-depth interviews, non-participatory observations, and secondary sources, findings show that changes related to tourism development and heritage conservation can reduce the sustainability of livelihoods in living heritage sites. Tulou clusters tend to be regarded as tourist attractions and cultural relics rather than lived-in places. Traditional livelihoods have been affected as residents are forced to adapt to the demands of tourism. This research helps to expand the SL theory by incorporating cultural heritage capital and community self-organisation, and highlighting residents' self-controlled capacity toward assets.

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