GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (7): 1324-1334.doi: 10.11821/yj2010070017

• Culture and Tourism • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Path dependence in travel route formation in ancient village tourism destinations:An empirical study of Xidi and Hongcun

XU Hong-gang1, WU Yue-fang1,2, PENG Li-juan1   

  1. 1. Center for Tourism Planning and Development, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. Foshan Polytechnic College, Foshan 528237,Guang dong,China
  • Received:2009-08-17 Revised:2009-11-15 Online:2010-07-20 Published:2010-07-20


In recent years, visiting ancient villages, ancient towns or world cultural heritages has been popular. However, with tourism development in the humanistic destinations, problems have emerged. The over concentration of travel routes has been criticized for a long time,as it leads to a series of consequences, including the spatial concentration of tourist activities, confined business opportunities, limited resident participation and unbalanced community development. Although local residents as an integrated community are crucial in forming an attractive humanistic and cultural landscape in these destinations,it is possible for only a small proportion of them living along the travel routes or owning farmland to be fully integrated in tourism development. The permeation of tourism into the community breaks down the balanced status and perplexes the power relation, where there might be disparity and conflict. Moreover, concentration of tourist activities places tremendous pressure on heritage, infrastructure and tourism management, while it also deteriorates the satisfaction of both the tourists and residents. However, although dispersion of tourist activity has been advocated by the tourism experts, few measures have been taken. This paper analyzes the formation and solidification of travel routes in ancient village destinations in the cases of Xidi and Hongcun world heritage sites. It points out that it is not optimistic in tourism management, community participation and development as well as in heritage protection, which are not economically, socially, culturally or environmentally sustainable. The solidification process of the travel routes follows a path dependence pattern often discussed in neo-institutional economics. There are six feedback loops motivating the process, including the mass tourist market structure, Chinese consumptive culture, ancient architecture protection, power relation, institution settings and economic factor. System dynamics is utilized to model the feedback system. Currently, the travel routes in Xidi and Hongcun are locked in an unsatisfactory status, where drastic change will be under tremendous opportunity cost.

Key words: travel route solidification, path dependence, system dynamics, feedback model, Xidi and Hongcun