SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 128-136.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2020.01.016

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Impacts of Embeddedness Towards Tourism Economic Sustainability of Historic Villages: A Case of Xidi and Hongcun

Liu Yi1, Huang Kaixuan2, Bao Jigang1,3(), Qin Yang1   

  1. 1. School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, Guangdong, China
    2. Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117570, Singapore
    3. Center for Tourism Planning and Research, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2019-10-07 Revised:2019-12-10 Online:2020-01-10 Published:2020-03-17
  • Contact: Bao Jigang
  • Supported by:
    The Humanities and Social Sciences Financed by Ministry of Education in China(14YJC790083);The Humanities and Social Sciences Financed by Ministry of Education in China(19YJAZH060);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41920104002)


The sustainable development of historic villages is one of the hotspots in the research field of Tourism Geography. Existing research mainly focus on the property right arrangement, benefit distribution mechanism, and the conservation and sustainable utilization of tourism resource. However, the learning mechanism and the source of technology progress are yet to discuss. In this context, the majority of extant studies hold a supportive view of community-dominated pattern of development. This article argues that the learning mechanism and industrial upgrading in these villages and the negative effects of the community-dominated pattern of tourism development cannot be overlooked. Through the cases of two cultural world heritages in China, Xidi and Hongcun, this study attempts to explain the reasons and impacts of the alternate rise and fall of these two historic villages, from the perspective of embeddedness. It aims to unveil the relation between high (community-dominated) and low (outsider-dominated)-embedded patterns and the economic sustainability in historical tourism villages. It intends to explain how different patterns of embeddedness lead to distinguished outcomes of tourism leakages, learning activities, industrial upgrading and their further tourism development in historic villages. Conclusions are as follows: 1) The high-embeddedness pattern can bring about comparatively stable community development and fair value distribution in the community. But it relatively hinders the upgrading of the tourism industry, and the low-embeddedness pattern, vice versa. The relationship between embeddedness and the economic sustainability of the tourism villages is dialectical and the key rests on the trade-off between less tourism leakages or more leaning opportunities. 2) Considering the sustainable tourism development of historic villages in a more dynamic and long-term manner, the learning mechanism is more important than the equal share of profits. When the learning mechanism effectively facilitates the industrial upgrading, abundant benefits can be generated and the conflicts caused by uneven distribution are more likely to alleviate. Overall, the contribution of this article is to construct a more critical analytical perspective for the branch of sustainability study in tourism geography. It identifies the key of the trade-offs in high/low embeddedness patterns and the importance of learning. Additionally, this study has supplemented a new type of case studies to the industrial upgrading research in economic geography from the perspective of tourism geography.

Key words: sustainable tourism development, historic village, embeddedness, tourism leakage, learning opportunities, industrial upgrading

CLC Number: 

  • F592.99