How is China “Sold” to potential tourists?

The Stereotypical view of a country is often how is it “sold” to potential tourists visiting.  Stereotypes are seen exploited in travel magazines because people are familiar with the images that “represent” the country or that they would associate with the country. If we associate a country with certain images then of course that is what we expect if were to visit it. Travel brochures are full of images that would be considered stereotypical to give people a taste of what they are buying or rather giving people “what the want”.

When asked about China people mentioned several different aspects about the country from the food to the people and places. There was a contrast I noticed. People would either describe a “rural” image of China of the rice fields with  farmers wearing traditional hats and the historical landmarks such as The Great Wall of China. This then contrasted the other image of China people had in mind, describing China as being filled with tall skyscrapers and being very advanced in technology and science. It is no surprise that there is such a contrast as it is such a big country which has all the above. More often than not it is the rural image of China that is featured in travel brochures however as it is a culture so different from others, and that is it’s selling point.

The image captured in tourist brochures of China  that I gathered, are of idyllic places filled with culture and ancient history. Often advertising tours to different locations and deals visiting popular landmarks and going on site seeing “adventures” (that are all planned out  in a day to day itinerary).  Although the historical areas are emphasized more as desirable places to visit, there is no denying that China is a vast country that has more than just its “mighty past” to offer. The images in the brochures are of  The Great Wall of China, Terracotta warriors, giant pandas, calm scenery and people in traditional garments and only a few images of an “east meets west” theme of the metropolises cities that are rising today. All very alluring images to entice many tourists each year to visit, though what is being portrayed in the brochures does not necessarily meet the image that a modern China wish to convey today. On the other hand there is the idea that if China is modernising then eventually it will look  like every other built up country, and what would attract the tourists in the future, if not its interesting unique history.

The images that are illustrated in the travel brochures do  not match the desires the country has to make China modern. Though this is not necisarly a bad thing however.  China’s challenge is to create a balance between their interesting and captivating traditions and ancient history with their  potentially thriving future. Preserving as much as they could would be ideal  to keep tourists visiting the country year after year to enjoy everything it has to offer, old and new. An example would be the Hutongs in China, narrow streets/alleyways which  there are traditional courtyard housing (siheyuan), that are being demolished in order to create new roads and towering buildings. By taking away the “culture” of Hutongs have not only destroyed ancient buildings that are homed to families for generations but also disturbing communities and their day to day lives. Hutongs are such unique buildings and are an attraction to many tourists, destroying them all would be a great loss to the country.

A balance of tradition with modernity maybe difficult to achieve with a country that is so vast and developing so fast. It seems to be that the traditional aspects that are the selling points to tourists hence the stereotypical imagery that are being emphasised in the travel magazines, but this does not match the countries desires to make it modern.

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