1. JOURNAL OF HERITAGE TOURISM
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Q1 Bandarin, 2001 in text but Bandarine, 2002 in Reference list
Q2 Chandler et al. (2002) not in Reference list.
Q3 UNESCO (1972) not in Reference list.
Q4 Where are these references cited in text?
Q5 Please give full postal address (street, zip code) for
3. Journal of Heritage Tourism
period and based on a prosperous trading economy – the Huizhou period. the
patterns of buildings and streets in these two ancient villages reflect the socio-
economic structure of a long-lived and settled period of Chinese history
(uNesCo, 2000). Blood ties linked the inhabitants living in the two villages.
traditional customs are maintained, and there is a high degree of social stabil-
ity. the ancient villages of Anhui are among the most characteristic examples of
traditional Chinese villages. they are usually located at the base of a mountain,
alongside rivers or lakes; they have regular spatial layouts of quiet, narrow
alleys and picturesque gardens at the mouths of rivers. the architecture is
simple, yet elegant, with unique forms of gables, delicate carvings and orna-
mentation and elegant interior furnishings.
the regional culture of southern Anhui is called ‘Huizhou Culture’, an ancient
culture dating to around 600 BC. it reached its apogee in the 14th–19th centuries,
when Anhui had a dominant influence in various aspects of Chinese culture,
such as arts, architecture, culinary arts, music and the influential Cheng Zu
(an ancient Chinese emperor) philosophy, which is an interpretation of
Confucianism. the ‘Huizhou’ culture has a broad geographic scope including
Mount Huangshan and Xidi and Hongcun. the two villages of Xidi and
Hongcun particularly retain in material form many elements of this important
Chinese culture. However, all historic cultures have been more or less eroded
as a result of social development and modernisation. in the mountain areas of
southern Anhui, family and blood ties are loosening and the influence of
Huizhou culture is gradually diminishing. Xidi and Hongcun are two of the
few surviving villages that have not undergone radical changes.
the number of international visitors to these sites has been increasing dra-
matically, from 2,205,000 in 2000 to 3,256,000 in 2004 (including taiwan, Hong
Kong and Macao). Local tourism administrators and tourism enterprises are
making great efforts to market cultural heritage tourism products, especially to
international visitors. However, there is no available research focusing on the
World Heritage status of the three places and the impact of this status on inter-
national visitations in Xidi, Hongcun and Huangshan.
Properties selected for inscription on the World Heritage List are considered the
foremost natural and cultural wonders of the world. such is the significance of
World Heritage status that WHs have been described as ‘magnets for visitors’ and
World Heritage designation ‘virtually a guarantee that visitor numbers will
increase’ (shackley, 1998). Bandarin (2001) stated that it is an inevitable destiny Q1
that the very reasons a property is chosen for inscription on the World Heritage
List are also the reasons millions of tourists visit these sites. Although it is often
suggested that World Heritage status increases the popularity of a location or
destination, Hall and Piggin (2001) found that the link between the WHs status
and increased visitation above existing tourism trends is somewhat tenuous. they
also suggested that the intrinsic qualities of the place itself might be a major factor
in tourist visitation to the area, with World Heritage status having only a marginal
effect on visitor numbers or relative attractiveness (Hall Piggin, 2002).
since the inception of the World Heritage List, there have been considerable
discussions about issues such as the conservation of World Heritage sites, the
4. Influence of Visitors’ Awareness of World Heritage Listings
management of the sites and the educational benefits brought by tourism to
heritage sites. Although these complexities have invoked discussions in both
the academic and popular literature, little empirical analysis has been done on
the tourism marketing and promotion of WHs (Hall Piggin, 2002). the under-
lying relationship between the World Heritage List and tourism was made
explicit by uNesCo itself in 1976, which described tourism as ‘more than an
economic phenomenon with social and cultural effects, has become a
phenomenon of civilization’ (uNesCo). it was suggested that the profits
generated by tourism activities would improve the preservation of such sites,
create new jobs, better educate local people and promote greater public aware-
ness of the sites’ cultural or natural values, thereby increasing the chances of
future preservation (Nicholls Vogt, 2004). At many WHs, developing tourism
is the only alternative to overcome current poor economic situations. Despite
this, Hall and Piggin (2002) found the majority of affected tourism businesses in
New Zealand were not capitalising on their proximity to WHs in their promo-
tions. therefore, what roles should World Heritage listings actually play for
destinations in attracting visitors? in addition, there also seems to be a substan-
tial gap between the knowledge on the interplay of the intrinsic qualities of
WHs and the associated values among visitors. What does a World Heritage
listing mean to visitors and how important is this as a travel motivation?
Many studies have found that heritage tourists tend to have distinctive socio-
demographic characteristics compared with other travellers. Light et al. (1994)
described heritage tourists as being middle class, well educated, middle aged,
with no children, on holiday away from home and having a prior knowledge of
history. Previous research has also revealed that heritage tourists tend to stay
longer (4.7 vs. 3.3 nights), spend more money per trip ($615 vs. $425) and have
higher average annual incomes ($42,133 vs. $41,455) (Kerstetter et al., 2001).
Q2 Chandler et al. (2002) showed heritage tourists made more frequent use of travel
information sources such as visitor centers, maps, highway signs, brochures
and pamphlets. However, there is little available research on the linkage
between the appreciation of WHs and visitors’ socio-demographic characteris-
tics and activity patterns. For example, are there significant socio-demographic
differences between visitors who are fully aware of the importance of World
Heritage listing and visitors who have no such knowledge? Moreover, do the
visitors with World Heritage awareness tend to participate in more heritage-
and cultural-related activities within a destination?
the main research objectives of this study were two-fold. the first was to
determine the influence of the World Heritage status of Huangshan, Xidi and
Hongcun on international visitors’ travel decisions. the second was to compare
the trip characteristics, socio-demographic profiles and activity preferences
among international visitors according to awareness levels of these World
Heritage listings. Five specific research objectives were identified:
(1) to explore the awareness levels of World Heritage listings for Huangshan,
Xidi and Hongcun among international visitors and then to divide them
into two awareness groups – ’aware’ and ‘unaware’.
5. Journal of Heritage Tourism
(2) to investigate the relationship between visitors’ awareness of the World
Heritage List status and their decisions to come to this part of southern
(3) to study the relationship between the knowledge of the World Heritage
status and tourists’ visit purposes.
(4) to profile these two groups of visitors and compare them in terms of socio-
demographic and trip characteristics.
(5) to analyse the association of awareness levels and activity patterns of the
two groups of international visitors.
the study used data from the International Visitor Survey for Huangshan, Xidi
and Hongcun in 2005. interviews were conducted in Huangshan international
Airport, Huangshan train station and local hotels with departing international
visitors from 2 July to 30 July. A total of 879 interviews were completed and the
respondents came from 41 different countries. the research utilised sPss to
analyse the data.
the data were first segregated into travel parties who were aware of the
destinations’ World Heritage List status and those unaware by using the
survey question, ‘Did you know Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun were placed
on uNesCo’s World Heritage List before you came?’ Visitors who gave an
affirmative answer were identified as belonging to the first group. then, this
group of visitors was also asked to indicate the degree of the influence of the
destinations’ World Heritage List status had on their visit decisions from
‘significantly’ to ‘somewhat’ to ‘not at all’. in that way, they were categorised
into three groups labelled as ‘significantly influenced’, ‘somewhat influenced’
and ‘not influenced’, respectively. Furthermore, the study combined the
‘significantly influenced’ and ‘somewhat influenced’ into one group ‘influ-
enced’ to compare with a ‘not influenced’ group. Later, logistic regression
analysis was employed to explore the relationship between the awareness
of the prestige of the destination’s World Heritage status and its influence on
people’s visit decisions.
in the interviews, respondents were asked to identify the tourism activities
they participated in during their visits. Chi-square tests were used to compare
the activity participation patterns between the different groups. those who
participated in culture and heritage related activities were also asked to give
their satisfaction evaluations by choosing a number from 1 to 5, where 1 meant
poor and 5 was excellent. to investigate satisfaction levels with tourism activi-
ties, ANoVA tests compared the mean scores of different groups. Chi-square
tests were used to detect significant differences in the socio-demographic and
trip characteristics of the groups.
The influence of World Heritage status on visitors’ decisions to come
to Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun
Among respondents who answered the particular question (n 5 685, 77.9%),
some 285 (41.6%) visitors were aware of the World Heritage listings, and 400
6. Influence of Visitors’ Awareness of World Heritage Listings
(58.4%) were unaware of them. Within the ‘aware’ group, 200 (67.1%) were
influenced by the message that Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun were listed as
WHs. these figures indicated that the knowledge of World Heritage listing had
a moderate effect, rather than a dramatic one on visitors’ decisions. this was
further illustrated in that 45% of the ‘aware’ visitors said that this knowledge
‘somewhat’ influenced their decision in making the trips, while only 22%
responded that the knowledge had a significant impact.
A simple linear regression formula was developed to measure the influence
degree brought by the destinations’ World Heritage List status among interna-
Y(influence) = 0.774-1.025*X(awarencess)
independent variable ‘X’ had two possible values and they were ‘0’ and ‘1’.
the value ‘0’ designated ‘awareness’ and ‘1’ was ‘no awareness’. When X
equalled 0, dependent variable Y turned out to be 0.774; when X equalled 1, Y
became -0.251 correspondingly. to interpret the two results, it should also be
noted that ‘Y 5 1’ means ‘being influenced’ and subsequently, ‘Y 5 0’ is the
same with ‘not being influenced’. this regression formula was examined by
ANoVA test, and both the intercept ( p 5 0.000) and the slope ( p 5 0.049)
proved to be significant.
this model had dual meanings. First, tourists’ visit decisions were positively
influenced by the knowledge of the destinations’ World Heritage status. that
could be explained by the Y value increasing with X went from ‘no awareness’
to ‘awareness’. second, despite the two being positively related, the influence of
the knowledge was rather subtle. even for people who recognised the World
Heritage status of the destinations, the influence level on their visit decisions
was less than ‘1’. the perception of WHs did not have a large impact on visitors’
World Heritage List status and tourists’ visit purposes
in terms of specific visit purposes, respondents were found to be significantly
different in ‘Huizhou culture and heritage’ ( p 5 0.000).
Although the overall level of visiting for the primary purpose of Huizhou
culture and heritage was low, the connection between being aware of the
destinations’ World Heritage listing and being interested in participating in
local culture and heritage tourism activities was quite salient. the WHs aware
visitors were more likely to have the purpose of participating in Huizhou
culture and heritage activities than the WHs unaware group (20.1% versus
10.5%) (see table 1).
Conversely, the WHs unaware group had stronger motivation to climb Mount
Huangshan. the p-value for the difference between the two groups was 0.57,
which was close to being a significant value at the level of α 5 0.05 (see table 2).
World Heritage List status and tourism activities
the visitors with knowledge about the destinations’ World Heritage List
status were found to be more likely to participate in local folklore cultural activi-
ties ( p 5 0.006). However, the two groups of visitors displayed very similar
satisfaction levels with this particular type of tourism activity. the WHs
7. Journal of Heritage Tourism
Table 1 Knowledge of World Heritage List status and Huizhou culture and heritage
Heritage purpose Knowledge of WHL
Not aware Aware
No Count 357 226
% Within purpose of heritage 61.2 38.8
% Within knowledge of WHL 89.5 79.9
% of total 52.3 33.1
Yes Count 42 57
% Within purpose of heritage 42.4 57.6
% Within knowledge of WHL 10.5 20.1
% of total 6.2 8.4
total Count 399 283
Table 2 Knowledge of World Heritage List status and climbing Mt Huangshan
Climbing Knowledge of WHL
Not aware Aware
No Count 67 64
% Within purpose ofclimbing 51.1 48.9
% Within knowledge of WHL 16.8 22.6
% of total 9.8 9.4
Yes Count 332 219
% Within purpose of climbing 60.3 39.7
% Within knowledge of WHL 83.2 77.4
unaware group even had a slightly higher mean score of 3.28 compared to the
WHs aware group’s mean value 3.18. this result showed that there was not a
positive relationship between participation in folklore cultural activities and
satisfaction levels among the visitors. this leads to some intriguing questions.
the knowledge of World Heritage status definitely seemed to attract people to
get involved in the local folklore cultural activities that could be considered
representative of Huizhou culture and heritage. But did those who were aware
of the great reputations of WHs have higher expectations, and the real experi-
ences failed to reach their ‘idealised’ standards? in that sense, was the World
Heritage status really a helpful tool in facilitating local heritage tourism devel-
opment? According to Kotler et al. (2005), ‘customer satisfaction depends on a
8. Influence of Visitors’ Awareness of World Heritage Listings
product’s perceived performance in delivering value relative to a buyer’s expec-
tations. if the product’s performance falls short of the customer’s expectations,
the buyer is dissatisfied’. if the buyers are not satisfied, they may not make the
same purchasing choice again. therefore, the first-time visitors to Huangshan,
Xidi and Hongcun are less likely to become repeat visitors if their expectations
are not met.
A similar situation was found for ‘visiting historical ancient buildings’ and
‘appreciating traditional Chinese calligraphies and paintings’. in these two
cases, ‘not influenced’ visitors had higher satisfaction scores than ‘influenced’
visitors. the significant level for the two group of visitors for ‘visiting historical
ancient buildings’ was 0.005 with the mean score of the ‘influenced’ group being
3.70 and the ‘not influenced’ being 4.12. As for ‘appreciating traditional Chinese
calligraphies and paintings’, the p-value was 0.006 and the two means were 3.56
and 4.08, respectively. Again, the results cast doubt on the role that World
Heritage listing actually played in heritage tourists’ visits if they could not have
Socio-demographic characteristics of visitors
Visitors who were knowledgeable of the destination’s World Heritage status
were found to be significantly different in terms of: travel party, region, trip
type, possibility of coming back and times have been to Huangshan, Xidi and
Hongcun. Visitors traveling alone tended to be more aware of the World
Heritage status of the destinations ( p 5 0.021). this result was consistent with
the findings for ‘trip type’ in that independent tourists were generally more
aware of the World Heritage status of Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun than
package tourists. the results showed that 44.7% of independent travellers were
in the WHL aware group versus 37.0% of package trip members.
the visitors from south Korea and Japan had much higher awareness of the
destinations’ World Heritage status than visitors from other parts of the world.
to substantiate the hypothesis that Korean and Japanese visitors were also
more likely to be influenced by the World Heritage listings, an analysis was
done on the relationship between the degree of influence degree and visitors’
origins. the four regions (North America; south Korea and Japan; europe;
other) differed significantly on influence patterns, with p-value equal to 0.000
some 85.3% of the Korean and Japanese visitors were influenced by the infor-
mation on the destinations’ World Heritage status.
some 71.1% of the WHs aware visitors expressed the intention to revisit
Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun. only 57.5% of the WHs unaware visitors
gave that answer. this contrast showed that the World Heritage listing was an
important reason for tourists to intend to revisit. so, in spite of the WHs aware
group’s lower satisfaction evaluations of tourism activities, they still displayed
stronger revisit intentions than the WHs unaware group. one might wonder if
visitors’ satisfaction levels could be raised higher, the incentives for a repeat
visit would grow as well. Besides, repeat visitors had considerably higher
awareness levels of the destinations’ World Heritage status. some 80% of them
were WHL aware, only 40.2% of first-time visitors knew about the World
Heritage List status of Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun (table 3).
9. Journal of Heritage Tourism
Table 3 Comparisons of socio-demographic characteristics of visitors
Socio-demographics Aware Not aware p-Value
travel party travel alone 53.1% 46.9% 0.021
travel with 39.5% 60.5%
region North 28.6% 71.4% 0.000
south Korea 51.1% 48.9%
europe 42.5% 57.5%
others 43.2% 56.8%
trip type independent 44.7% 55.3% 0.025
Package 37.0% 63.0%
Possibility of Very likely 55.3% 44.7% 0.000
Likely 41.7% 58.3%
Not sure 32.2% 67.8%
unlikely 34.0% 66.0%
times have None 40.2% 59.8% 0.000
one time and 80.0% 20.0%
World Heritage is ‘of outstanding universal value from the point of view of
history, art or science’ (uNesCo, 1972). this study examined the influence of Q3
World Heritage inscription on international visitors using Huangshan, Xidi and
Hongcun of southern Anhui, China as a case study.
this study developed a simple linear regression model to describe the
relationship between visitors’ awareness of the destinations’ World Heritage
status and influence on visit decisions. the results showed that awareness did
motivate people to come but it did not appear to be a very strong influence. this
finding corroborated the arguments of Hall and Piggin (2001) that the link
between World Heritage listings and increased visitation was in fact not as
strong as the stakeholders and tourism business owners expected. the intrinsic
cultural assets, the foremost natural wonders and the unique experiences the
WHs provide, are the real incentives to attract international visitors. this impli-
cation holds particular concern for Chinese stakeholders. China has 31 World
Heritage sites located all over the country. However, there is a common
misconception among site managers and tourism business owners that once a
tourism attraction is ‘glazed’ with the glory of a World Heritage listing, the
10. Influence of Visitors’ Awareness of World Heritage Listings
visitors, especially international visitors, will flow in automatically. As a result,
not enough attention has been paid to emphasise the true inherent content and
quality of these sites. this case study of Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun revealed
that there is still much work that has to be done to engrave the real images of
WHs into international visitors’ minds.
the awareness of World Heritage status was found to be related to tourists’
visit purposes. People who were not aware of the World Heritage listing were
more inclined to climb Mount Huangshan, while knowledgeable visitors were
more interested in Huizhou cultural and heritage activities. the reason for this
phenomenon could be traced back to the special cultural and natural attributes
of Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun. WHs have been categorised by uNesCo
into three types based on their distinctive assets: natural, cultural and mixed.
Huangshan was considered to belong to the ‘mixed’ type of site, which meant
that both the natural and cultural aspects of Huangshan were perceived to be
possessing outstanding and long-lasting values. However, it should be noted
that ‘its natural values then are predominant over the cultural’ (iuCN, 1990).
For the most part, the high esteem of the culture of Huangshan is credited to
history, Chinese poems and paintings. Huangshan has been deemed as a typical
image in Chinese traditional landscape paintings (eigner, 1939; Hers, 1935).
therefore, the cultural aspects of Huangshan are to a large extent very intangible.
For people who do not have sufficient knowledge to understand ancient Chinese
poems and the aesthetic values of traditional Chinese paintings, the culture
underlying Huangshan is obscure and hard to master. unfortunately, this
seems to be true for most international visitors except for some of the Japanese
and Koreans tourists whose culture to some extent shares some similarities. For
these reasons, Huangshan has been typified as an image of ‘a Chinese mountain
with great scenery’ on a global scale. the cultural aspects of Huangshan appear
to pale in comparison to its natural features for most visitors. this might help
explain why those unaware of the World Heritage status of Huangshan did not
show a strong interest in participating in culture and heritage activities because
in their minds, Huangshan was a predominantly natural and scenic attraction,
where climbing to the top was the main priority.
Another contributing reason is that the lack of sufficient efforts to market
Xidi and Hongcun by the stakeholders and tourism business owners. the two
sites have been positioned by the local government mainly as ancillary attrac-
tions to Huangshan for people visiting the whole region long before the two
were placed on the World Heritage List. Compared to Huangshan, the culture
of Xidi and Hongcun are more tangible such as the unique styles of architecture
and artifacts. However, the parts of culture related to Chinese history such as
‘the ancestral system of the region’ still demands a good understanding of
Chinese society and history. this type of culture, together with many other
types of traditional Chinese cultures that were largely and deeply influenced by
Confucianism, is a conservative and introverted one. For people who were not
raised within Chinese society, it is difficult to understand even superficially.
Nevertheless, the external aesthetic beauty of the two ancient towns, the delicate
man-made artifacts and the well-preserved folklore traditions still present
appealing attractions for people who are both culturally distant and culturally
similar to these places. After 2000 when uNesCo inscribed them on the World
11. 0 Journal of Heritage Tourism
Heritage List for their outstanding cultural values, the local stakeholders and
tourism business owners did not react in the most appropriate way. the two
villages were not separated from the packaged ‘Huangshan-Xidi and Hongcun’
tour. Huangshan was still treated as the dominant tourism attraction in the
region and Xidi and Hongcun are still on a secondary level. Nearly all of the
tourism activities offered by Xidi and Hongcun are related to culture and herit-
age such as ‘visiting ancient historical buildings’ and ‘participating in local folk-
lore cultural activities’. However, the people unaware of the World Heritage
status of Xidi and Hongcun also did not know about the culture and heritage
tourism activities there. As such, they were very unlikely to consider culture
and heritage activities as a primary purpose of visiting.
the special intrinsic attributes of Huizhou culture could also explain why the
WHs aware group generally had a higher participation ratio in several specific
culture and heritage activities but lower satisfaction levels. Because of the
prestige that the World Heritage List holds, visitors who were aware of the
destinations’ WHs status might presumably have higher expectations. However,
the obscurity of Huizhou culture may have made their experiences not as satis-
factory and exciting as they expected. Although the two groups of visitors might
have had similar tourism experiences in Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun, the
WHs aware group was not equally satisfied. this problem calls for local stake-
holders and tourism business owners’ to give more, better and specific interpre-
tations of the content of Huizhou culture and heritage. if this culture and
heritage could be made more accessible and understandable for foreign visi-
tors, the international image of Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun would be greatly
enhanced. Moreover, failures to meet customers’ expectations will eventually
deter international visitors from coming. Moscardo et al. (2001) pointed out that
interpretation combines elements of communication, education and entertain-
ment together and it has the aim of assisting visitors to appreciate the place they
are visiting. so the solution to the problem appears to be two-fold. First, there is
a need to market the three destinations more effectively using the World
Heritage status as the core attraction. second, visitors must gain more under-
standing and appreciation of the contents of culture and heritage of the destina-
tions through more effective interpretation.
there are several marketing implications resulting from the socio-demographic
characteristics of the WHs aware group of visitors. the Korean and Japanese visi-
tors had much higher awareness of the World Heritage status of the destinations
and were more likely to be positively influenced by these designations. it is
suggested the marketers should put greater emphasis on advertising the WHs
status of the destinations to these two markets. in addition, there existed a strong
positive relationship between visitors’ awareness levels of the WHs status and
intentions for revisiting. Prompt action is required to raise the international
awareness levels of the World Heritage List inscriptions of Huangshan, Xidi and
Hongcun, especially since 80% of repeat visitors were aware recognition of the
WHs status of the destinations. independent travellers also tended to be more
knowledgeable of the WHs status, perhaps having made more prior effort to
become familiar with the destinations. Local stakeholders and tourism busi-
ness owners should give greater attention to these independent travellers. in
contrast, tour operators and travel agencies organising group tours are short
12. Influence of Visitors’ Awareness of World Heritage Listings
of information of the destinations’ World Heritage listing, or lack interest in
promoting it heavily. this issue also requires immediate thought and attention.
in summary, the World Heritage status appears to be a significant asset to
support destination marketing. However, sites cannot completely depend on
their listing to attract visitors. Moreover, site managers and marketers must
provide more thorough and professional interpretation of the underlying
culture to help visitors better comprehend what they are experiencing. in fact,
it is the intrinsic content and quality of the sites that really matters rather than
the listing itself. the findings of this study provide important insights for mar-
keting and managing other WHs such as Macao. Further research is needed on
different types of WHs in other countries to more fully explore the impact of
World Heritage status on visitor motivations and satisfaction.
the authors would like to express sincere gratitude to the Department of
tourism Management of Anhui university (China) for helping to collect the data
and providing a part of the funds. the authors especially would like to thank
Professor shangzheng Zhang of the Department of tourism Management at
Anhui university for his great contribution to the completion of the on-site sur-
veys in Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun. the authors also thank the Anhui tourism
Administration and Huangshan international Airport for their assistance.
Any correspondence should be directed to Cheng Yan Department of Q5
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