The Welcoming Chinese Visitor Program: An instrument of soft power to script service-scapes for the China Market

Authors: Patricia Johnson*, University of Newcastle
Topics: Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Worldmaking, soft power, tourism service-scapes, Australian tourism, China outbound tourism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This study reveals that there is a logic and a set of stages that can explain how tourism is used to progress a wider political agenda. The Service Ready module of the Welcoming Chinese Visitor Program (a Sino-Australian initiative to develop industry for China outbound tourism) is analyzed by applying a worldmaking lens. Worldmaking, as a platform of inquiry, provides an approach to swivel the focus away from tourism as subject to view tourism as agent. As a representational force, the module is based on officially condoned truth and works as a tool of soft power to easternize business practice in Australian tourism service-scapes. The narratives within the text are selective – ostensibly to explain culture, but, in doing so, the subtext sets out parameters of power by emphasizing key themes and embedding them in service-scape scripts through prescribed protocols. Three key themes were revealed as necessary inclusions to all service-scape scripts for mainland Chinese visitors: the 3Ps of pride, position and power. While China’s state-led soft power efforts are still in an early stage, one could argue that the rapid growth of the Chinese outbound tourism market coupled with rising nationalism hold significant implications to how tourism will be used to shape the world order of the future. This paper comments that it is not what tourism does or its involvements, but it is how it is wielded as a tool for economic and socio-political gains that is of key importance.

Theme: China, Tourism and soft power

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