Sustainable Tourism: Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve
Modern mass tourism in China has a history of about thirty years. The market has been expanding rapidly quickly as the country is endowed with spectacular sceneries such water lakes and marvelous waterfalls. The most visited tourist destination in China is known as Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve. The destination has witnessed growth between 1984 and 2012 at a rate of at least one hundred and thirty times. This rapid growth has resulted to extreme environmental and economic impacts considering the increase is fast and large while the tourist population is contained in a limited area. Thus, several changes in the local environment have been caused across Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve. For example, algae in water have been increasing further improving nutrients in the water and sediment in lakes. Consequently, travertine has been degrading which has increased threats on biodiversity. These changes are a threat to sustainability of tourism in Jiuzhaigou. It has been theoretically asserted that, the carrying capacity represented by daily visitor numbers within Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is utilized to control the number of tourists. This however has proved neither applicable nor useful in practical management (Yong, Jie, Ya, Xue, Carla and Guiping 104).
As a result, efforts are still being made to reduce adverse environmental impacts across the area. The main efforts involve controlling the number of tourists in order to reduce environmental degradation. This discussion will therefore focus on sustainability issues in Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve. The essay will seek to assert that, the issues are mainly attributed to the conflicts between conservation of the natural beauty and local economic development in Jiuzhaigou. Consequently, the essay will recommend and promote sustainable tourism by advising tourism management board in Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve to control the number of tourists visiting the destination. This is because a numeric limit on a daily basis should be based on the task of identifying adequate environmental monitoring. Thus, scientific research that is well designed will assist in determining measures to undertake to sustain daily number of tourists in Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve while monitoring environmental impacts in the destination (Yong, Jie, Ya, Xue, Carla and Guiping 107).
The Chinese tourism history is mainly based on about three decades a small number of citizens during the 1980s were able to travel especially within local traditional tourist destinations. During the past two decades, tourism industry in China has grown and expanded. For example, the Natural Resources Forum in China managed under United Nations asserted in 2013 that inbound tourists have increased by at least one hundred and ninety times. This is because statistics assert only seven hundred and sixteen thousand tourists were recorded in 1978. This number however increased in 2011 with the number of domestic tourists increasing by fifteen times from two hundred million to more than two billion between 1984 and 2012. It is therefore evident tourism in China plays a major role towards sustaining and developing national and local economies. More so, the numbers of tourist destinations have increased enhancing the rate of economic growth (Cary 16).
Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve was developed as a world natural heritage site in 1992. It is a major Sichuan Scenic Area site located at least three hundred kilometers north of Chengdu. The Northeastern region of the destination is located in Min Shan Mountains. It also forms part of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. The main scenic are that attracts tourists stretches at least eight kilometers long to form the letter Y. this scenic area comprises of Shuzheng, Zechawa, and Rize villages. They cover an area of approximately seven hundred and twenty kilometers squared. This provides tourists with magnificent views to mountains, waterfalls, and lakes (Wiki-Travel 1).
Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve therefore represents a major part with regards to how tourism industry in China has grown and expanded. The name of this tourism destination translates to the valley of nine villages. Thus, the name has often been accredited for attracting tourists keen and curious of witnessing the spectacular waterfalls, lakes, shoals, mountains, and valley sceneries. This has led to increase in the number of visitors. The rapid increase can be dated back in 2000. By 2012, Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve was holding a capacity of more than three million tourists. The tourism board in China recognizes that Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is unique as it is restricted by valleys which limit the number of routes used by tourists to experience the destination. Thus, the large number of tourists has to be contained in a small restricted area within the destination. This has resulted to adverse ecological and environmental impacts (Wiki-Travel 1).
Sustainable tourism is a diverse and complex issue playing an increasingly significant role in determining growth of the tourism industry. Sustainable tourism ought to be based on principles ensuring environmental, ecological, cultural, social, and economic aspects of a country are developed to sustain a balance. The balance guarantees long term sustainability while making optimal use of environmental resources. The resources play a major role in developing tourism, maintaining essential ecological procedures and conserving natural heritages as well as biodiversity. This aspect however has not been achieved across Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve. When the government discovered this destination in 1972, it had been inhabited by Tibetan and Qiang people for centuries who engaged in extensive logging activities. When it was developed into a national park in 1982, it could not be opened until 1984 as the government had to ensure it would achieve tourism sustainability and approved by the UNESCO World Heritage and World Biosphere Reserve (Wiki-Travel 1).
Currently, more than seven thousand tourists visit this destination on average. The environmental balance has therefore been broken hindering the tourism reserve site from achieving and sustaining environmental protection. The park is also overwhelmed in attempts to manage and control the activities taking place. Thus, exploitation of the available natural resources has been extensive. This is mainly fueled by desires to achieve financial gains through mass tourism without planning and implementing measures to achieve sustainability to avoid depletion of natural resources (Cary 18).
A responsible tourism industry ought to provide quality products to the visitors. This involves identifying and embracing local involvement management in order to protect resources and adding tourism products. Consequently, economic, cultural, social, and environmental values within the tourism site are achieved and maintained. The values of the Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve are maintained through field trips, camping, and hiking. For example, tourists are encouraged to climb the valleys in the site such as Zharu valley in order to learn about plant species and observe wildlife. Unfortunately, these values are not sustained as the tourist destination does not adequately manage and control the environment based on the environmental protection policies implemented within the Chinese tourism industry. Recently, tourists across the country have been demanding better travel products with greater varieties. Unfortunately, the country has a poor record of investments within the tourism industry. Public, private, and government investment resources are neither sufficient nor properly planned to ensure tourist destinations are conserved and sustained. For example, citizens from China claim visiting Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve can be expensive without providing the visitors with an experience worth or equal the value of the budget. These claims can be affirmed by focusing on the costs of visiting the destination (Wiki-Travel 1).
The Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve report released in 2014 claimed that, Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is an expensive destination. This is because tickets to access the tourism destination are high compared to other sites in the country and world. as a result, tourists were provided with the following tips to reduce the budget of visiting Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve. Foremost, the visitors are advised to avoid buying bus tickets as the ride can be substituted to a three hour walk along the riverbank. The walk allows visitors to experience the waterfalls and lakes. Unfortunately, the advice involves encouraging the visitors to utilize the buses within the park after Nourilang Waterfalls as conductors no longer check for tickets from the passengers. This has resulted to the park recording economic losses on bus trips within the park as the management board is neither keen nor motivated to avoid visitors engage in unethical and corrupt activities including failure of paying for services accessed within the site (Jianxiong, Pei, Guiping and Lu 170).
Nature of Unsustainable Tourism in Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve
Foremost, Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is described as a well preserved site with natural and beautiful sceneries. Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau which is a government agency is required to protect and manage the destination. It has strived to achieve ecotourism as the large number of visitors overwhelms it. For example, it developed regulations and measures in attempts to minimize damages on the local environments. This included spatial planning of tourism activities and infrastructures (Wiki-Travel 1).
The legal mechanisms such as logging ban into the park are often violated, assumed and ignored by both visitors and persons employed within the destination to ensure they are upheld and respected. Use of buses using liquefied natural gas has attributed to environmental pollution. The waterfalls and lakes have experienced pollution as visitors are allowed to carry foodstuffs which encourages littering. According to Cary Hendrickson, the following valleys within Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve have been adversely affected by lack of ecotourism. They include Heye, Shuzheng, Jijiehaizi, Rize and Zharu valleys which have experienced deforestation and improper ecological and environmental monitoring (Cary 16).
According to Jenny Tian, Elixa Tse, and Yinggang Zhou, they assert the main reason leading to failure of sustainable tourism is lack of a balance between development of tourism activities and environmental sustainability. Increase in demand within the tourism industry should be complimented by increase in investments in order to fund measures aimed at sustaining the tourism environments. The environments include natural and cultural resources in order to sustain a destination’s historical, scenery and cultural relics and magnificence. Professionalism can resolve this issue as the management board ought to comprise of skilled, qualified and experienced people. They ought to utilize analysis skills to identify issues affecting sustainability of the park while improving the quality of services being offered at the tourist destination. They can also ensure the wide gap between tourism services and increasing demands is addressed through business and professional acumen (Jenny, Elixa and Yinggang 17).
A biosphere survey was conducted in the destination revealing that, local people are involved in activities related to tourism. This has increased conflicts between the locals and persons working within the site. More so, when logging bans were introduced, several people were laid off. This led to locals and the laid off employees holding strikes which delayed transition from silviculture to tourism. This enhanced degradation of local ecological systems as well as social and economic resources. For example, the large number of tourists led to high levels of consumption. Consequently, the volumes of wastes increased. The natural areas in the destination lack adequate waste management infrastructures. This has therefore attributed to damage of ecosystems which is detrimental to several parties relying on the site a source of livelihood. As a result, social activities including prostitution, immigration and indigenous cultural exchanges and crime have expanded in attempts to enhance economic values. Ultimately, lack of cooperation and understanding to achieve a balance between locals and tourist operators within and outside the park has resulted to unsustainable tourism activities within Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve (WTO 27).
An Outlook to Achieve Sustainable Tourism
In order for Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve to resolve the effects encouraging unsustainable tourism, the following measures ought to be undertaken. According to Jianxiong Qin, Pei Zhang, Guiping Deng, and Lu Chen, developing and achieving ecotourism and sustainability ought to include the following measures. Foremost, the sceneries in a tourist destination including lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, flowers, and other forms of landscapes ought to be beautiful. This can be achieved and sustained through ecological, biological, and genetic diversities as well as incorporation of diverse species. These qualities attract tourists while encouraging the management board in the destination to protect and conserve the values and qualities maintaining the site’s beauty. Primitive tourist destinations often attract visitors. They however also encourage human beings to interfere with ecological environments in attempts to achieve modern growth and development. Thus, a tourist destination ought to ensure primitivism is sustained to avoid ecological damages in attempts to develop the regions (Jianxiong, Pei, Guiping and Lu 171).
Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve ought to acknowledge the tourism industry in China is growing rapidly. This is because the country contains unique and fragile natural and cultural sites in the world. Thus, the site is experiencing increasing pressure to host tourists desiring to witness and experience the natural and cultural resources. To achieve sustainability, central decisions to manage and control the park should focus on environmental, social, and economic aspects. For example, the government, public and private organizations should increase investments required to manage and conserving the park. Consequently, Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau ought to undertake better decision making procedures at low costs. This will ensure it identifies emerging issues adversely affecting the tourism site in order to formulate solutions and measures to prevent such issues in the future. The impacts the site is experiencing due to mistakes that have already been committed should also be identified. This will allow Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau to formulate and implement corrective actions at the right time effectively and efficiently. A performance measurement should also be developed. This will manage and control how Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau plans and manages activities within the park. It will also ensure evaluation progress with line to sustainable development in tourism is implemented (WTO 32).
Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau ought to acknowledge accountability plays a vital role in resolving issues. Thus, Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau should gather credible information from various parties in order to make viable and applicable decisions. These parties include park operators, local communities, and also stakeholders within the tourism industry. Accessibility to National Support Programs for Tourism Development within China should also be identified and utilized. This will encourage investors to encourage growth of the destination to meet and fulfill demands from the tourists. Ultimately, increased investments will support functions and operations being undertaken by Jiuzhaigou Administration Bureau to protect, conserve and sustain the Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve (Jenny, Elixa and Yinggang 21).
The Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve is therefore a destination with ecological, geological, and biological resources attracting and retaining tourists. It has however led to adverse impacts including poor waste management, overpopulation, and corruption. The park management board should therefore strive to achieve environmental, ecological, and biological balances as well as protection in order to conserve the sceneries and sites attracting tourists. The main role to undertake to achieve this should involve controlling the number of tourists visiting the destination on a daily basis. This will ensure the park management controls wastage infrastructures. It will also reduce the number of tourists relying on bus trips without paying which is greatly contributing to air and water pollution. Ultimately, the park ought to calculate and control activities being undertaken within the site by tourists and park operators. This will monitor and control the growth of domestic and international tourism directly and indirectly impacting sustainability operations within Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve.
Cary, Hendrickson. To Develop or Conserve? A Case Study on Biodiversity, Protection and Local Sustainable Development in Jiuzhaigou, China. Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies, 2009. Print.
Jenny, Tian, Elixa Tse, and Yinggang, Zhou. Tourism Development in Western China. Tourism Feature, 2013. Print.
Jianxiong, Qin, Pei Zhang, Guiping Deng, and Lu, Chen. A Study on Eco-Tourism and Sustainable Development of Economic Underdevelopment Areas: An Example from Kanas Nature Reserve, Xingjiang Province, Northwest China. Smart Grid and Renewable Energy, 5(1), 170-179, 2014. Print.
Wiki-Travel. Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve. Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve Report, 2015. Web 13th July 2015: http://wikitravel.org/en/Jiuzhaigou_Nature_Reserve
World Tourism Organization (WTO). Indicators of Sustainable Tourism for Yangshuo China. Final Report from a study and Workshop Process using the WTO Indicators Methodology, 2005. Print.
Yong, Gu, Jie Du, Ya Tang, Xue Qiao, Carla Bossard, and Guiping, Deng. Challenges for Sustainable Tourism at the Jiuzhaigou World Natural Heritage Site in Western China. Natural Resources Forum, 2013. Print.