Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Carla Jones


This thesis examines the composition and cultivation of commercial tourism zones in Yunnan, China. I identify expectations tourists bring to their travels, and how receiving communities meet and transform those expectations, based on fieldwork in five receiving communities. I argue tourists have three primary motivations in touring to Yunnan: pursuit of the exotic, the natural world, and personal freedom. I situate this argument within three academic literatures: the scholarship on tourism in China, Chinese ethnic minorities, and the anthropology of tourism. I break the actors in Yunnan’s commercial tourism zones into four artificial categories of on-location actors: local residents, Han or ethnic minority migrants, foreign expatriates, and tourists. Commercial tourism zones such as Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Shaxi and Xizhou form not only as a response to tourists’ desires but also as a result of municipal policies, and individual cultivation of tourism. I conclude by suggesting analysts can and should consider local resident participation in tourism cultivation when assessing the efficacy of tourism in poor regions as a tool for poverty alleviation.