Evaluation System for Yunnan Cultural Tourism Routes Based on a Five Component Model: Case Study of the Ancient Tea-horse Road in the South of Yunnan

  • WANG Yan ,
  • XIE Hongzhong , * ,
  • ZHU Tao
  • Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Kunming 650221, China
* XIE Hongzhong, E-mail:

Received date: 2019-04-04

  Accepted date: 2019-07-02

  Online published: 2019-10-11

Supported by

Key Projects of Philosophy and Social Science Research Base in Yunnan Province(JD2019ZD03)

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of People’s Republic of China(WMYC20181-083)


Copyright reserved © 2019


Cultural tourism routes can reveal and protect cultural tourism heritage by means of cultural tourism in the “time category” and the “space category”. The construction of an evaluation system for cultural tourism routes and the evaluation, scoring and grading of existing and potential cultural tourism routes are the key to the protection of heritage, history and culture along these routes, and the key to encouraging the standardization, branding and sustainable development of various formats on the routes. Yunnan cultural tourism routes are diverse and rich in resources, and their developmental foundation is good. However, the tourism development and cultural development activities occur along separate lines and there is a lack of unified management. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct research on information collection, information analysis, problem diagnosis and improvement of status in the local practices of Yunnan cultural tourism routes, and to guide the sustainable development of Yunnan cultural tourism routes. Based on the advanced experience of COE (Council of Europe), UNESCO WHC (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Heritage Committee) and ICOMOS(International Council on Monuments and Sites), this paper comprehensively analyzes the decisive criteria for line evaluation by interpreting and summarizing the connotations of cultural tourism routes, and determines that the evaluation of cultural tourism routes should include lines. Five aspects―the theme, the participating subject, the object itself, related activities and multi-party value―are used to construct a five-component model. At the same time, based on the consumer utility function, a complete route evaluation and hierarchical system is constructed. Then, taking the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route as an example and using the expert scoring method and the analytic hierarchy process, the actual scores and grades of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route are determined, and countermeasures and suggestions for its sustainable development are proposed. The paper also verifies the applicability and practicability of the evaluation system, and promotes and improves the feedback evaluation system. The aim is to at promote and widely apply the evaluation system of cultural tourism routes, realizing the transformation from individual cases to joint cases, and promoting the standardization and sustainable development of cultural tourism routes.

Cite this article

WANG Yan , XIE Hongzhong , ZHU Tao . Evaluation System for Yunnan Cultural Tourism Routes Based on a Five Component Model: Case Study of the Ancient Tea-horse Road in the South of Yunnan[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2019 , 10(5) : 553 -558 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2019.05.012

1 Introduction

Because a cultural route meets the requirements of tourism for upgrading, deepening connotations, broadening extensions and sustainable development, cultural routes have become important benchmarks and represent new ideas for tourism development. The concept of “cultural route” originated in Europe, and Europe has had a major impact on the development of cultural routes. In terms of cultural tourism route certification, there is a lack of uniform, indicative, quantitative, and digital certification standards. The introduction of the concept of cultural routes in China came relatively late, and the development of tourism on cultural routes is a separate issue. How to draw on international experience and develop a unified standard system that combines complete maturity, internationalization and localization has become an urgent problem to be solved.
The idea of cultural route dates back to the theme tour routes advocated by the European Parliament in the 1960s, the “cultural journey”. In order to better implement the European Cultural Convention, the European Parliament considered cultural tourism to be a desirable way to “improve the European collective consciousness of the most important cultural sites and the leisure culture combined with them”. In 1984, the European Parliamentarians Congress adopted an appeal to revive the European pilgrimage route, and in 1987 identified the Routes of Santiago de Compostela as the first cultural route in Europe.
In China, as early as 2005, Li and Yu (2005) offered a preliminary introduction to the basic concepts and development of cultural routes based on CIIC documents and conference materials, and compared these with the concept of “fairy corridors” in the United States. Liu (2006) made an analysis of the connotations of the cultural route and compared cultural routes with heritage types such as lineal cultural heritage and cultural landscape. Yang (2009) summarized and analyzed the definitions, connotations, outstanding universal values, authenticity and integrity of cultural routes, and clarified the relationship between cultural routes and cultural landscapes, The heritage of routes and tourist routes. Yang (2010) made a study on the single type of tourism products along the Silk Road, the extensive development and management of tourism resources, the difficulties tourism causes to the ecological environment, and the shortening of the life cycle for tourism products. Many say it is urgent to seriously study the optimization and upgrading of Silk Road tourism products from the perspective of ecological protection. There is a proposal to implement a new pattern of tourism development with ecological tourism as the “root” and cultural tourism as the “soul”, to construct diversified types of tourism products, and to formulate corresponding optimization strategies such as tourism development planning highlighting protection of the ecological environment. In 2018, Shen used martyrdom as an example to study the spatial evolution and types of cultural routes.
A comprehensive analysis of the existing literature shows that earlier studies by overseas scholars focus mainly on a single element on specific routes. For example, Mozart’s cultural route pays attention to Mozart’s musical elements while olive tree route pays attention to food elements. Current research in China focuses primarily on heritage protection and the theoretical analysis of cultural routes. Few scholars study cultural tourism routes or tourist routes as a whole and, as a result, there is even less research on qualitative and quantitative certification of cultural tourism routes. The research in this paper on the construction of an evaluation system for Yunnan cultural tourism routes provides valuable theoretical and practical guidelines.
The Ancient Tea-horse Road is an important cultural tourism route in China and it is a world heritage leader in terms of both spatial span and historical duration. Its complexity, depth and breadth of cultural exchanges far exceed those of similar heritage sites. At the same time, the geographical location of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route is closely linked with people’s daily life and is an important cultural space in urban and rural cultures. In addition, the certification of the cultural routes is based on the Tea-horse Road cultural routes, which are both regional and international in scope, helping to build an international platform, highlight regional cooperation and issuing an authoritative and highly adaptable evaluation system.

2 Study area

2.1 Analysis of the geography, cities and regions along the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route

The Ancient Tea-horse Road in Yunnan is a routes resource, which includes historical buildings, monuments, historical sites, cultural blocks, historical towns and cultural landscapes. It radiates strongly and has obvious cultural tourism value. The spatial distribution of the Ancient Tea-horse Road in Yunnan has a structure of “one body and two wings”. The main route leads from the south of Yunnan to the northwest; that is, starting at Xishuangbanna, Pu’er, Lincang and other Pu’er tea producing areas and distribution centers, and passing through Dali, Nujiang, Lijiang and Diqing to Tibet. The tea-horse road in the south of Yunnan continues to extend southward from Pu’er, and from Simao to Jinghong and Menghai to Daluo.

2.2 Analysis of tangible and intangible elements in the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route

Post road remains lying along the ancient road are important components that embody the traffic functions of the Ancient Tea-horse Road. For example, the Nacre Tea-Horse Post Station, the Roller House, Rongfa Horse Store, Beizhaimen, the ancient road site, the ancient road stream, the horse jumping stone, the Fengyu Bridge, the Shixinshu Lianxin Bridge and the Tongxin Pavilion are all important remains.
There are historical towns on the tea-horse road in the south of Yunnan, such as Nayun Ancient Town, Lao Da Bao, Jing Mai Weng, Jing Mai Qiang Guzhai, Xuanfu department of Meng Lian, and Jingjing Lai. These ancient towns and villages embody the group settlements along the Ancient Tea-horse Road and contain the changes of history, culture, stories and world affairs in the settlements.
Cultural identity and phenomena exist as a specific connotation and feature that identifies the Ancient Tea-horse Road. There are both tangible and intangible signs such as customs, art forms, myths and legends, traditional handicrafts, and special diets. Tangible signs are the external manifestation of intangible signs, and intangible signs are the connotation support of tangible signs.

3 Data and method

3.1 Selection of evaluation functions

The utility function is usually used to represent the quantitative relationship between the utility of the consumer consuming and the combination of commodities consumed. It measures the extent to which the consumer is satisfied with his/her consumption of a given combination of commodities.
In this paper, the utility function used is as follows
$Y=\alpha A+\beta B+\gamma C+\theta D+\varepsilon E$
where Y is a function to obtain the weighted average score of the route. A, B, C, D, E indicate the actual scores of the criteria layer in the cultural route evaluation system, while α, β, γ, θ, ε indicate the elasticity coefficient of the criterion layer, which is the weight.

3.2 Model construction

3.2.1 Selection of evaluation object
Using the advanced experience of Europe as a basis, cultural monomers with the same or similar natures are classified. Considering the time, space, environment and other factors involved in the cultural routes, this study proposes a five- component framework model for the evaluation system of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural routes in the south of Yunnan. It concludes that the evaluation should include five aspects: the theme of the routes, the subjects involved in the routes, the status of the routes themselves, the related activities carried out along the routes, and the multiple values embodied in the routes.
3.2.2 Five component model
After the criterion layer is determined, each criterion consists of several indicators. The details are as follows: 1) Cultural routes should have corresponding themes and names. The themes should involve multiple fields and are unique historical displays and cultural testimony. 2) The main participants in the route include community residents, local governments and all industrial sectors. 3) The cultural route itself is the connection between tradition and modernity, and the presentation of culture and nature. It should span different times and spaces, and contain both material and non- material elements and content. In other words, it should be reflected in three aspects: route conditions, facilities and market attraction. 4) The related activities carried out on the route mainly involve the fields of research, historical memory, education and sustainable development. 5) At the same time, it should contain explicit and implicit values.
On the basis of the above analysis, a five-component evaluation model was constructed (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Model of the Yunnan cultural route evaluation system

3.3 Classification

Different cultural routes are divided into different grades based on the comprehensive score of the routes. The classification of different cultural routes further provides incentives and improvement ways for routes with lower scores to improve, and encourages the optimal development of cultural routes.

4 Case study

4.1 Score of criterion layer

Based on the specific index requirements for various standards and the objective conditions of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural route in the south of Yunnan, the experts give actual scores. Finally, the route scored 10 points, 8 points, 8 points, 7 points and 6 points, respectively, for the five route aspects of theme, participants, route itself, related activities and value.
Table 1 Evaluation grades of cultural routes
Score ≥ 8 6-8 4-6 ≤ 4
Grade First-class Culture Route Second-class Culture Route Third-class Culture Route Fourth-class Culture Route
Table 2 Score of the five criteria for the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural route in the south of Yunnan
Criteria layer Theme Participants Route itself Activities Value
Score 10 8 8 7 6

4.2 Determination of the weights in criteria layers

This paper uses Delphi and AHP to determine the weights of the five criteria. The opinions given by experts in tourism are given comprehensive treatment, and then the importance of the five criteria to achieving the overall goal is quantitatively evaluated and the five criteria are calculated.
Two-two comparison is the cornerstone of the analytic hierarchy process. When determining the priority of the five criteria, two criteria are compared separately, and the relative importance of these two criteria to each other is obtained; this is a necessary requirement of AHP. At the same time, in each comparison, relatively more important standards must be found and the importance of the selected standards must be quantitatively determined.
The opinions of the experts on the comparison of the five evaluation criteria are evaluated to obtain a numerical grade reflecting the importance of the comparison criteria (Table 3).
Table 3 Comparison matrix of evaluation criteria for cultural routes
Items Theme Participants Route itself Activities Value
Theme 1 1/3 1/5 1/4 1/3
Participants 2 1 1/2 1 1
Route itself 5 2 1 1/2 1/2
Activities 4 1 2 1 1/2
Value 3 1 2 2 1
According to the results of the two-two comparison, experts believe that theme is less important than the other four criteria, while the value criterion is more important than the participants and activities criteria (Table 3).
Finally, the data are comprehensively processed. A pairwise comparison matrix is used, and the weight of each criterion is calculated according to the importance of each criterion for achieving the overall goal of cultural tourism route evaluation (Table 4).
Table 4 Weight matrix for each evaluation criterion
Criteria layer Theme Participants Route itself Activities Value
Weight 0.063 0.195 0.224 0.230 0.288
The data are comprehensively processed, and the weight of each criterion is calculated according to the importance of each standard for realizing the overall goal of cultural tourism route evaluation. The process of comprehensive processing can be divided into the following three steps: In the first step, the data summation value of each column in the pairwise comparison matrix is calculated; in the second step, each item in the pairwise comparison matrix is divided by the sum of its columns to obtain the standard pairwise comparison matrix. The sum of the columns gives the standard pairwise comparison matrix. The third step is to calculate the arithmetic mean of each row in the standard pairwise comparison matrix. These averages are the actual weights of the criteria.

4.3 Consistency inspection

The AHP consistency check rule states that the weight of each criterion should be multiplied by the corresponding column matrix in the pairwise comparison matrix to obtain a weighted sum vector, and then the weighted sum vector obtained should be divided by the corresponding weight value. The average of the three values obtained is λmax, and the value of λmax is 5.1121. Then, according to the formula CI = (λmax - n) / (n - 1), the CI value can be obtained, where n is the number of comparison items. The calculated CI value is equal to 0. 0280. Finally, the CR value is calculated according to the consistency ratio calculation formula CR = CI/RI, where the magnitude of the RI value depends on the number of comparison items; that is, n = 5, and the CR value is calculated as 0. 05389.
The AHP rule states that when the consistency ratio is less than or equal to 0.10, the consistency is acceptable. In this example, the result of CR = 0.05389 meets the requirements for an acceptable degree of consistency for the pairwise comparison, and this indicates that the weight assignment consistency of the five evaluation criteria is also qualified. Therefore, the weights of the five evaluation criteria of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route determined by expert scoring and analytic hierarchy process are scientific and reliable, and meet the requirements.

4.4 Total score and grade

According to the scores and weight data of the five evaluation criteria that have been obtained, and using the utility formula, αA+βB+γC+θD+εE, the comprehensive scores of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route in the south of Yunnan under the requirements of five evaluation criteria are as follows:
According to the classification of cultural routes, the Tea-horse Road cultural tourism route in the south of Yunnan belongs in the category of secondary cultural routes.

5 Discussion

5.1 Suggestions for deepening the significance of evaluation system construction

5.1.1 Promote the formation of a unified tourism image along the routes
Evaluations of cultural tourism routes can help to promote communication between tourism practitioners and local communities along the routes, and traditional cultural characteristics along the routes can be preserved and respected. This promotes the goals of building communities, sharing resources, jointly identifying cultural themes and jointly operating cultural tourism formats along the routes. It allows the formation of a unified external cultural tourism image, and promotes the inheritance and protection of cultural heritage along the routes.
5.1.2 Promote the development of tourism formats along the routes
The introduction of unified evaluation criteria makes it objectively possible to integrate the theme-based development of tourism formats along cultural tourism routes, such as "eating, living, traveling, buying and entertaining" and "business, nurturing, learning and leisure". In addition, the evaluation criteria allow the routes themselves and each format and industry along the routes to obtain a mark that is easily recognized by the tourism market, thus helping the routes create competitive advantages.
5.1.3 Promote the concise theme of cultural tourism along the routes
Evaluation criteria and aggregation of route resources allow tourism-related subjects to conform to the theme culture of cultural tourism routes in terms of cultural atmosphere, cultural creativity, cultural activities, cultural values, cultural management, etc. A cultural consensus is formed, establishing a common cultural tourism image with the outside world, and driving the development of a series of cultural tourism products. It is believed that cultural tourism products such as creative tourism, educational tourism, visiting tourism, religious tourism, volunteer tourism, language tourism, gourmet tourism, health tourism, spiritual tourism and folk tourism are better reflected in cultural tourism routes.

5.2 Suggestions for the sustainable development of cultural routes

5.2.1 Theme aspects: highlight multiple areas, history and cultural connotations
The theme of the cultural route gives the tourist his or her first impression of the route. A theme involving multiple fields, rich navigation and cultural connotations helps to stimulate a tourist’s interest in tourism and exploration. A good route theme should be determined by experts from different fields, reflecting a consensus about each region, and showing regional history, memory and heritage, and becoming a unique witness to regional civilization.
5.2.2 Stakeholder aspects: build a solid main structure of government, communities and industries
The development of cultural tourism routes requires the joint efforts and mutual cooperation of the government, community residents and all sectors of industry. The government must provide appropriate policies, management and financial support. Industry must form a local industrial structure and develop a rich variety of tourism products and forms. Tourism income must be fed back to local communities, with community residents participating directly or indirectly in relevant decisions and activities, and receiving a fair distribution of benefits. Under these circumstances, the various formats of routes can develop in the long run.
5.2.3 Route itself aspects: improve conditions and service facilities to enhance the overall market attraction of the route
The connotations of cultural tourism routes require that the route should be a collection of material and non-material elements. The route itself should reflect the flow, blending and inheritance of cultural phenomena, and reflect the protection and development of cultural heritage. At the same time, the routes should be accessible and have a certain degree of integration with the surrounding area. By providing these conditions, and in conjunction with safety systems, environmental protection systems, infrastructure, tourism facilities, and recreational facilities, the abundance and visibility of tourism resources and market attraction can be increased.
5.2.4 Activities aspects: strengthen the connections and integration of activities in different fields
Research embodies regional cooperation, social-economic ties and cultural-natural ties. These can be used as connections between traditional life and modern life to display authentic historical and cultural experiences, and local folk customs and festivals. They promote the exchange of young people at the educational level, promote cross-cultural understanding and dialogue, promote inclusive understanding between subject and object, and help to realize cultural inheritances and coordinated development.
5.2.5 Value aspects: both invisible and explicit values are indispensable
Explicit values are the external extension of implicit values, and implicit values are the connotation support of explicit values. Neither should not be neglected. We should pay attention to the simultaneous development of the two. That is to say, while excavating the ties, communication and overall value of the routes, we must also pay attention to the social, cultural, economic, scientific, educational, and scientific values of the routes.

5.3 Prospects

The evaluation method for cultural tourism routes developed in this paper is only in its preliminary stages. The approach should be further improved in the selection of indicators. In the latter stage, the indicators of the third and fourth grades, that is, the scores and weights of the indicators and verification layers, should be determined.
In the future, the practicality, applicability and universality of the system will be expanded, not only to further evaluate the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural route, but also to evaluate other cultural routes.
Corresponding evaluations will be made for the various formats along the cultural route, so that the various formats can benefit from the evaluation system, and also help to promote their standardized and sustainable development.

6 Conclusions

To sum up, the five-component model can make an all- round evaluation of cultural tourism routes both from an overall perspective and in detail. Through the evaluation process of the Ancient Tea-horse Road cultural tourism routes, we can see that the evaluation system can provide significant guidance for the standardized development of cultural tourism routes. According to the system, operators along the route can have standards to rely on when operating and improving the route. Enterprises and formats on the route can also have corresponding standards to regulate and restrict their own business behavior. As part of the evaluation process, it is helpful to strengthen the cooperation and communication among relevant stakeholders. In addition, in the process of developing and protecting of cultural routes, the evaluation system helped to identify many details that had not been noticed before.
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