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Open AccessArticle

Food Heritagization and Sustainable Rural Tourism Destination: The Case of China’s Yuanjia Village

by Jing Guan 1, Jun Gao 1,* and Chaozhi Zhang 1,2
1
School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519000, China
2
Institute of Belt and Road Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102858
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 14 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 May 2019 / Published: 20 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife)
A “cultural turn” from those early management focused studies to more wholesome and exploratory socio-cultural analysis of food with sociological approaches has emerged in more recent food tourism studies. In the Chinese tourism context, however, extant studies are mainly conducted with marketing approaches linked to management to analyze the role of (heritage) foods in tourist perception and experience, and destination marketing. This study thus seeks to understand the mechanism of food heritagization and its effect in Yuanjia Village, a renowned rural tourism destination featuring traditional delicacies in China’s Shaanxi Province. Data were collected via interviews and participant observations. The findings show that, led by local elites and monitored by a bottom-up regulatory system, locals use raw materials associated with being “local”, “traditional”, and “organic”, make food with traditional crafts, and present food in a nostalgic atmosphere for consumption. Traditional foods are reinvented/reproduced as edible exemplars of the culture and heritage of the Guanzhong area (central Shaanxi Plain), and as carriers of nostalgia for a rural past that satisfies the imaginations and needs of surrounding urbanite visitors. This, in turn, contributes to the sustainability of the village as a rural tourism destination, featuring industry convergence that fosters economic sustainability, as well as governance embedded in rurality to deal with tourism benefit distribution (i.e., cooperatives) and social problems (i.e., peasant school) that promotes social sustainability. This research contributes to the understanding of food heritagization from a bottom-up perspective as well as rural destination sustainability from a gastronomical perspective in China. View Full-Text
Keywords: food heritagization; rural tourism; sustainability; nostalgia; food safety; cooperatives food heritagization; rural tourism; sustainability; nostalgia; food safety; cooperatives
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Guan, J.; Gao, J.; Zhang, C. Food Heritagization and Sustainable Rural Tourism Destination: The Case of China’s Yuanjia Village. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2858.

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