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University of Colorado At Boulder

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities


Nestled beneath misty mountain peaks, among the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze rivers, a beautiful Tibetan village lies. Alongside low-lying mountain creeks and waterfalls this village is in Deqin County of Yunnan’s Deqin Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Deqin TAP). The Deqin TAP is the most Northwest prefecture of Yunnan. Deqin boasts that 33% of its population is comprised of the dominant minority group, Tibetans. Deqin prefecture is comprised of three counties, Shangrila County, Deqin County, and Weixi County. Deqin County is mostly comprised of small Tibetan towns and villages like Yongzhi. About 100 families inhabit Yongzhi. The village is placed right along the famous outer-kora of the snow mountain, Kawa Karpo (Chinese: Meili Xueshan). This kora is one of the eight most important pilgrimages on the Tibetan plateau, putting Yongzhi directly in the path of a famous tourist and religious destination.

Since World War II tourism has emerged as the world’s leading industry. This has been huge in developmental studies; tourism has always been a main focus as Third World countries use tourism opportunities to develop economically and improve the standard of living. (Chen 2011:125). In recent years, with the growth of tourism in all of Yunnan’s northwest region, outsiders penetrating the village have started to appear in more variety than the original religious pilgrims whom have historically visited the area. Now, foreign and Chinese tourists are embarking on their own pilgrimage to the beautiful region and along the Kawa Karpo kora. This paper address how the impact of tourism on Yongzhi brings up issues regarding three differing types of tourism, mass-tourism, ethnic tourism and pilgrimage tourism, as they relate to eco-tourism and sustainable tourism in the region. This paper also seeks to address issues of modernity and development and environmental issues as they also become apparent when tourism and development inevitably reach this small village.


Civic and Community Engagement | Place and Environment | Sustainability | Tourism