GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (10): 2233-2248.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020191139

• Industrial Transformation and Rural Developmen • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Transformation of rural border tourism destination and its sustainable development path: An ethnographic study of Daluo port area in Yunnan

GAO Jun1(), WANG Ling'en2(), HUANG Qiao3   

  1. 1. School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. Graduate School of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510420, China
  • Received:2019-12-30 Revised:2020-05-15 Online:2020-10-20 Published:2020-12-20
  • Contact: WANG Ling'en;


Borderlands are margins of nation-states where different social systems meet. Against the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative, borderlands are becoming strategic points and forefronts for China's "opening-up". With the deepening of China's opening-up, tourism industry is now considered an important driver for socio-economic development at China's border areas. Drawing on ethnographic fieldworks conducted during the period of 2014-2019, this study identifies the features of rural restructuring in Daluo port area of Yunnan on the China-Myanmar border, and unravels how tourism has affected the transformation of the area. Findings show that along with tourism development, cash crops plantation emerged, which led to significant changes in rural development factors, including the surge of land value, increase of capital, and development of human resources. This saw the decline of traditional self-reliant rice agriculture, and the formation of a market economy dominated by cash crops plantation, supplemented by non-agriculture sectors such as tourism. The border people thus turned to cash crops plantation and non-agriculture sectors for livelihood, which resulted in significant income growth, and their pursuit of modern lives. This, in turn, helped dissolve traditional ethnic boundaries in the area, where all ethnic groups integrated into China's national development. With the emergence of non-traditional security problems, the Chinese state increasingly enhanced its presence at the border, and started to involve the border people in border governance, which reflected that the socio-economic transformation, land use and its spatial pattern changed significantly, including agricultural land for non-food crops cultivation, decrease of ecological space, and conglomeration of town construction land around the port. With the structural changes related to "people-land-industry", geopolitical security function, cultural function, and ecological function of the rural border have become evident, and the rural border developed towards multifunctional countryside. Based on these findings, this study identifies sustainable development paths for rural border tourism destinations. These paths include following the "agriculture +" vision to develop agricultural produces processing sector, rural tourism, and other non-agricultural sectors, supporting border people in borderland governance and development, and protecting the agricultural land and monitoring the ecological environment. This study contributes to the understanding of rural transformation and comprehensive impacts of tourism in China's borderland.

Key words: border tourism, rural restructuring, ethnic minority, cash crops plantation