Heritage Commoditization in the Living Heritage Sites: A Case of 'Creative Destruction' in Lijiang’s Old Town in China | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


The transformation of Lijiang’s Old Town in Yunnan, China, into a major domestic and international tourist destination as a result of its 1997 designation as a World Heritage site, provides an exemplary case study into which tourism development model best explains its progress and predicts its trajectory. Mitchell hypothesized the twin poles of destruction and enhancement as the consequence of the creative powers of an economy heavily influenced by tourism. In this paper I scrutinize Lijiang’s case through Mitchell’s model of ‘creative destruction’ and assess the observations of other published researchers in light of my own observations. Most observers (myself included) see Lijiang hurtling toward the destruction pole, but there are some signs that such rapid touristic development has yielded some enhancements. The opportunity to observe Lijiang again after the Covid-19th pandemic’s hiatus will allow for a reassessment in light of the schema outlined here.


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