#Focus ICAS12 | Local Residents and Lifestyle Migrants in Ethnic Tourism Market in Western China: Confrontation, Acclimatization and Symbiosis
From 24 to 28 August, Kyoto Seika University will host the twelfth edition of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS). This summer, the GIS Asie, partner of the event, invites you to discover a selection of papers that will be presented during the event.
With the rapid expansion of the tourism enthusiasm toward the Tibetan Plateau since 2006, small-scale hostels in this region have been quickly accumulated in numbers and become a cultural icon in China.
As a rarely examined ongoing cultural phenomenon, Tibet’s hostel sector seems to be monopolized by “outsiders” from inland China. However, based on the recent fieldwork, those outsiders are not ordinary businessmen but a group of lifestyle migrants, who temporarily relocate to Tibet in search of a better way of life other than better economic opportunities. This unique character of them leads to the lack of interest in maximizing the economic profit from their hostel business and the common absence of long-term plans about their hostels, which provides the local residents with various opportunities to get access to the profitable sector.
In such a complicated socioeconomic context, this paper explores the history of the hostel sector on the Plateau. It challenges the common “monopoly impression” by emphasising the economic roles local residents have been taking. Not only do they proactively take part in the hostel economy, but also have been positively adjusting their roles and strategies to better grasp the economic opportunities created by the shifting market expectations throughout the time. Their economic roles thus should be considered as a substantial force in constructing and reshaping the sector from the beginning till today. This study provides us with a new perspective for a more comprehensive understanding of ethnic tourism economy in China in general.
Qiujie Chen is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology with a specialisation in migration studies at École Pratique des Hautes Études - Université PSL (EPHE-PSL) and is associated with the centre de recherche sur les civilisations de l'Asie orientale (CRCAO), Paris. Her doctorate thesis concentrates on the community of lifestyle migrants with their subculture on the Tibetan Plateau. Her research interests include the ongoing lifestyle migration trend, middle class subculture and ethnic tourism economy in western China.