The Arctic Tourism Experience from an Evolving Chinese Perspective

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Huang, Ming-Feng
Tang, Chuanzhong
Weaver, David
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The growth in worldwide international tourist arrivals from 278 million in 1980 to 1133 million in 2014 (UNWTO, 2015) has been accompanied by the emergence of new visitor segments and products such as ecotourism, adventure tourism and food tourism. Moreover, all places can now be regarded as tourist destinations, from the deep-sea bed to the summit of the Himalayas, and from the equatorial rainfor­ests to the high-latitude ice sheets. No more than a generation ago, the high latitudes received hardly any attention from international tourists, Snyder and Stonehouse (2007: 3) regarding them as 'virtually unknown to the general public and poorly understood until the late 19th century'. Visitor numbers to the Arctic have since increased to about 1.5 million per year (UNEP, 2007), but most people even today still regard this region as an aspirational destination, exotic and mysterious, and difficult to reach from other parts of the world. Such a view, for example, pertains to China, which has attracted considerable academic and industry attention as one of the world's main tourist-generating countries. The Chinese tourist tsunami has already hit nearby destinations such as Hong Kong and Macau with tens of millions of visitors, but as yet the Arctic is only experiencing the smallest of ripples, a situation that will doubtless change in the next two decades. In anticipation of increased visitation, and in the spirit of ensuring that this visitation is both satisfying for the tourists and sustainable for the implicated destinations, this chapter provides some basic insight into the growing phenomenon of Chinese visitation to the Arctic. Following brief coverage of the overall context of Chinese tourism development, subsequent sections examine the magnitude of Arctic visitation, visitor profiles, motivations, preferences and experiences. Relevant planning and management implications are then considered. To identify significant trends, patterns and implications, the authors were informed by diverse secondary sources such as academic publications, documents from government and other organi­zations, conventional media coverage and social media analysis, as well as personal observation in China and the Arctic.

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Arctic Tourism Experiences: Production, Consumption and Sustainability

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