III The Influence of Cultural Context

A Grounded Theory Study of Ethnic Tourism in Hainan, China

Shuhui Xing and Dennis Heaton

Searching for Humanistic Management in Ethnic Tourism

Humanistic management is concerned with how business promotes human well-being and adds value to society at large. Humanistic management goes beyond the dominant economistic paradigm which assumes that people are materialistic utility maximizers who value individual benefits more than group and societal benefits (Pirson, 2017). A humanistic paradigm shifts concerns about the common good, human flourishing, ethical development, social relationships, and the environment from the margins to the center.

This chapter presents a qualitative exploration of one ethnic tourism project in China which has significantly achieved collaborative relationships with indigenous inhabitants whose culture and native land form the essence of an ethnic-minority theme park. It tells a story of care for the inclusion and economic development of indigenous people while preserving their cultural heritage.

In the sections which follow, we first review some of the literature about ethnic tourism, including prior research studies in China. This is followed by a description of the Bing Lang Gu tourism area and the qualitative research methods used to understand the perceptions of the local ethnic minority people, as well as other stakeholder perceptions, regarding ethnic tourism development. To explore the perceptions of various stakeholders regarding cultural preservation, management of tourism, and balancing social-culture issues in ethnic tourism development, five key stakeholder groups were interviewed: governments, tourism businesses, visitors, ethnic communities, and labor. Grounded theory analysis of the qualitative data led to the construction of an emergent human-centered theory of tourism development. The main analytical finding that is reported is sustainable ethnic tourism development outcomes are achieved when stakeholders share a common philosophy and operate with collaborative relationships. This human-centered model of ethnic tourism development is related to the philosophy of humanistic management and is contrasted to conflict-oriented models from some prior research studies on ethnic tourism in China.

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