After World War II, the economic recovery of Western Europe implied a swift economic transition for all regions, including the area of the Alps, although affecting various parts at different paces and stages. The resulting out-migration led to population decline in some mountain valleys and regions since the 1950s. Such negative population development trends are widespread across mountain areas of the world, including China, where out-migration started after its rural reform in the 1970s. The effect was in some cases even more significant than in the Alps, with the first villages being deserted in the 1980s. Current estimations report about 380,000 rural villages in China being abandoned between 2000–2016, particularly in its mountain regions. While lower population densities might alleviate the pressures on ecology and contribute to environmental benefits, these movements aggravate a spiraling-down process of local economies and culture. In the Alps, many regions that were facing challenges of out-migration and economic weaknesses focused on local initiatives, including agritourism schemes that provided both economic incentives and stability to involved mountain farmers, and the continuation of local land management systems. However, China’s interest for promoting rural action and tourism-oriented farm diversification only started more recently, with a range of rural tourism and agricultural tourism initiatives emerging. This paper focuses on lessons from successful initiatives in the Alps that might induce and strengthen China’s search for elaborating agritourism activities in mountain areas. In consequence, agritourism might be assessed as a contribution to mitigate out-migration from mountain regions and a core element of the future sustainable development of the Alps and the Chinese countryside.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited