Recreational Policies at China’s National Parks: A Comparative Case Study
This dissertation examines the recreational policies of China’s newly established National Park system. After the designation of the first five National Parks in 2021, there remain some urgent managerial gaps and issues that need to be assessed and resolved, one of which is tourism development. National Parks protect some of the most valuable ecosystems, as well as offer great visitation opportunities. In the Chinese context, the protected area system centres on National Parks aiming to achieve high standards of ecological conservation, national representation, and public services. Incorporating National Park tourism practices from New Zealand and India, focusing on topics of public access and tourism concession, this research identifies the current shortcomings and challenges in this early stage of China’s National Park tourism development. In response to these challenges, this research mainly conducts a comparative case study method to seek inspiration from other countries. It has been found that adaptive co-management would be a feasible framework to follow. Moreover, learning from the lessons and experiences in New Zealand and India, this research also proposes practical recommendations to improve National Park tourism in China. Laying a solid management foundation for the National Park system helps to maximise tourism benefits, but not at the cost of ecological deterioration, especially during the future growth of the number of parks.