Urbanizing the Therapeutic Landscapes: Health Tourism and Unhealthy Urbanization in Bama, China

Authors: Xiang Yan*, , Shenjing He, University of Hong Kong
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, China, Rural Geography
Keywords: Therapeutic Landscapes, Health Tourism, Longevity Village, Urbanization, Entrepreneurialism, Environment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As a burgeoning industry at the global scale, health tourism hits the Chinese market in the recent decade. Studies on health tourism mainly focus on the topics of public health and tourists' experience. Little attention has been paid to the impacts on the local environment and urban development. Located in a remote mountainous area in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Bama emerged as a world-famous destination for health tourism since the small county made its fame for longevity. However, nowadays the longevity village has been turned into the “village of cancer”, while the River of Life has been severely polluted by the thronging tourists from overall the countries, especially a large proportion of health tourists, who are in search of healing experience and a healthy lifestyle. Drawing on mix-methods applying statistical data and in-depth interview, this research closely examines the correlations between health tourism and excessive urbanization, exemplifies how an entrepreneurial local government turned the tranquil village into a bustling boom town within a short period at social and environmental costs. This research is expected to contribute to the literature on health tourism and entrepreneurialism in less documented small cities and towns.

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