Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2021, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (4): 543-554.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2021.04.012

• Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Sustainable or Not? Tourism Development in Agricultural Heritage Sites

SUN Yehong1,2,3(), SONG Yuxin4, CHEN Yuexin4, YAO Cancan1, LI Wenhua3,*()   

  1. 1. Tourism College of Beijing Union University, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Culture and Tourism Research Base of Beijing Union University, Beijing 100101, China
    3. Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4. College of Arts and Science of Beijing Union University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2021-01-15 Accepted:2021-04-30 Online:2021-07-30 Published:2021-09-30
  • Contact: LI Wenhua
  • About author:SUN Yehong, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    The National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971264);The Graduate Research and Innovation Funding Project of Beijing Union University(YZ2020K001);Premium Funding Project for Academic Human Resources Development in Beijing Union University(Baijie04)


Tourism is often considered as one of the dynamic conservation and adaptive management approaches in Agricultural Heritage Sites. It has been over 15 years since the GIAHS programme was initiated in China, and tourism developed quickly in the Agricultural Heritage Sites, to some extent because many researchers consider tourism as a significant engine of the local economy. However, this is contrary to the original intention of agricultural heritage tourism as it was proposed in the first place. Apparently, there are some overt problems during the tourism development process, which are mainly as follows: Some threats to Agricultural Heritage Systems are ubiquitous; The tourism development mode in Agricultural Heritage Sites is questionable; Community involvement is difficult to implement; And the negative environmental impacts are easy to overlook. Under the context of global development, the UNWTO sustainable tourism criteria provide some guidance for agricultural heritage tourism. Based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, combined with previous survey experiences and related researches, this paper analyzes the tourism sustainability of all the 15 GIAHS sites in China, and explores the current sustainable tourism development level. On this basis, an agricultural heritage sustainable tourism development framework was built in an attempt to find the road to sustainability for agricultural heritage tourism. The framework in the global and local contexts is trying to connect all the important elements related to agricultural heritage tourism according to the UNWTO sustainable tourism criteria.

Key words: sustainable tourism, Agricultural Heritage Systems, tourism development