Image of China tourism and sustainability issues in western media: An investigation of national geographic

Yi Chen, Zhuowei (Joy) Huang, Liping A. Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The current study aims at exploring China’s tourism sustainability issues as indicated in magazine articles related to China tourism. China’s environmental, socio-cultural and economic sustainability has been frequently discussed in Western media. Design/methodology/approach – Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies were used to content analyze the textual data in one of the most popular US travel magazine – National Geographic in the past ten years (2003-2012). Findings – This study presents the changes of topics on China tourism image conveyed by Western media in the past ten years (2013-2012). In addition, themes on China tourism sustainability issues are extracted from the China tourism image messages. The results reveal China tourism sustainability issues in two levels: sustainability issues directly related to China tourism with two dimensions of environmental sustainability and socio-cultural sustainability, and sustainability issues indirectly related to China tourism with two dimensions of economic sustainability and socio-cultural sustainability. Furthermore, the results delineate both positive and negative observations on environmental, socio-cultural and economic sustainability. Originality/value – The findings of the study highlight challenges and successful practices of the sustainable development in China tourism destinations and the importance of incorporating tourism image in sustainable practices, as well as a need of better communication with foreign media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-878
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 5 2014


  • China Tourism Image
  • National Geographic
  • Qualitative research
  • Sustainability
  • Travel writers
  • Western media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Image of China tourism and sustainability issues in western media: An investigation of national geographic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this