Ecotourism Achievements and Challenges in China and the World
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Which is worth more to the regional economy of western China: dams and hydropower, or conservation and tourism? As China grows richer, the balance tips to tourism. Dams last decades, and by then China will be as wealthy as the USA. The Colorado Grand Canyon grew to a global tourism icon, and mainstay of the regional economy, in just a few decades. The great gorges of the Nu, Lancang and Yangtze are larger, deeper and equally spectacular - but hardly anyone has yet seen them. There are two billion domestic tourist trips in China every year, and the number is growing. If we want these tourists to travel and spend in China, not overseas, we must keep places for them to visit. Based on a Colorado model, for example, the Great Bend section of the Yangtze could earn about the same through tourism as it could from hydro power - because power operations are intermittent, costs and losses in transmission to eastern cities are high, and bulk purchase prices are well below retail. And tourism has far lower social and environmental costs than hydropower dams, and far lower risks. The Western USA learnt this lesson at the last moment, conserving only the Grand Canyon for tourism when equally beautiful sections upstream and downstream were already dammed. Should not China also keep its great gorges, for its own people to visit as tourists? It will be worth more than hydropower.
Theory and Practice in Ecotourism
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