Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2004, Vol. 59 ›› Issue (7s): 132-138.doi: 10.11821/xb20047s018

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Tourism Geography in China (1978-2003): A Review and Retrospect

BAO Jigang, ZHANG Xiaoming   

  1. Center for Tourism Planning & Research, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Received:2004-03-17 Revised:2004-07-29 Online:2004-12-25 Published:2010-09-09


Tourism geography has been developing rapidly since 1978. However, there still exist problems such as insufficient studies in theory and methodology, narrow range in research, too much repeated work, and slow progress in research in general. This paper reflects on several issues in tourism geography in the last 25 years of development. 1) The relationship between academic research and its application. In the last two decades, tourism geography has mainly been serving an economic purpose. This paper argues that the practical value of tourism geography has been very much exaggerated; this has in turn played a negative part in stopping academic research from in-depth and extensive development. The development of tourism geography should not only serve economic purpose but also social and cultural purposes. 2) Research notion and objectives. Tourism geography in China needs to set up new notion in order for researchers to understand their mission. Contribution to the field lies on retrospection, self-doubt, critical and creative thinking. 3) Research method and findings. Empirical research has been the frequent practice in the field in the last 25 years. However, mathematical and quantitative research is not the only solution. Low level empirical studies can sometimes lead to a waste of time and energy on the researcher's part. The evaluation of research findings should be based on their contribution, the difference they make in relation to similar findings at home and abroad, etc. Attention should also be paid to the verification of the findings and the respect for intellectual property. 4) Crises and challenge. It is not appropriate to confuse the academic contribution of tourism geographers with their work in planning practice, because this tends to let their "social contribution" overwhelm or overtake their academic contribution. In turn, this would have a negative impact on their time management in research and practice, which may lead to crises in the field.

Key words: tourism geography in China, review, retrospect