Invisible Cities

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Invisible Cities” – Jeopardized International Tourism of Chinese Cities under the Impact of Air Pollution

Student Name: Zhaoting Wang

Student Number: 342670

Specialization: MSc Urban, Port and Transport Economics

Supervisor: Erwin van Tuijl

Second reader: Jan-Jelle Witte

August 2014


China has been increasing its attractiveness as a tourist destination after implementing “Open Door” policies in 1978. Since the issue of air pollution in China has been increasingly attracting public attention in recent years, this dissertation has investigated the impact of poor air quality on international tourism demand of Chinese cities. First, literature reviews of evolution of international tourism industry demonstrated a great expansion, and status quo of air pollution reflected a lack of sustainable approach for this development. The case studies are also a part of method, in order to set up hypotheses for quantitative analysis of empirical study, which is air pollution in this research. Due to a scarce of scholars, three similar cases are selected because they share some common characteristics with air pollution. Based on the experiences learnt from the case studies, two main hypotheses are set up, which both air pollution and media publicity of air pollution will produce negative impacts on international tourism in Chinese cities.
With the assists of econometrical models, two main hypotheses are tested. The statistical results manifested that the negative impacts on international tourism from air pollution and media publicity, indicating that hypotheses are not rejected. Tourism demand of international tourists will decline if the air quality decreases, as well as if media publicity of air pollution increases.
As a consequence, it can be concluded that poor air quality has negatively influenced demand of international tourists in Chinese cities. Therefore, it calls for policy makers to seek for solutions of mitigating air pollution, in order to acquire a sustainable development of international tourism in Chinese cities.
Key words: international tourism; air pollution; air quality; China


First and foremost, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to my supervisor, Erwin van Tuijl, for all the efforts you made, both academically and non-academically, for helping me complete this research in time. It could not be done without your smartness and patience. I also would like to thank Jan-Jelle Witte, for inspiring and helping me with quantitative analysis, and your knowledge about China has also made this research can be conducted so efficiently.
Next, I want to give my gratitude to all my friends who have supported me during this 4-year time study in the Netherlands, you are all precious in my life. I want to thank in particular Danshu Wang, my housemate, 4-year colleague in Erasmus School of Economics, for those thoughtful chats we shared in the raining midnights; Di Lei, my best travel companion, the boss of authentic Italian gelaterias in future, for the impulsive trips we made, famous football players we met, and matches we watched together; Suphakarn Varinpramote, my excellent group member of master seminars, for all the considerations and exquisite birthday gifts; Yi Cao, my personal fiction reading advisor, for all the discussions and laughter triggered by those charming characters; Zaiyue Yu, my idealism fighter, for inviting me to your parties; and importantly, for all of you, I want to give a special gratitude for your amazing cooking skills, which have saved a kitchen disaster from starving; but by exception, I still want to thank Yixin Rong, my expert of fitness, for being my Chinese colleague in this master specialization; Jia Qu, for those concerts and dinner nights; Xin Yin, for the jersey from Munich and all the good memories in San Marino; and Shirui Pan, for that strange tour in Juventus Stadium.
Moreover, my middle school classmates have been supporting me remotely as well. I want to thank Yiqing Liu, for all those words, and visiting me two years ago; Yu Wang, for the tacit meeting in front of Louver Musee without any cellphone connection, and the delicious food you brought from our hometown; Simeng Song, for the packages of Japanese delights; and Yihong Jiang, for the cool postcard from Palestine.
Last but not least, I want to thank my parents for everything, hope that you are proud. Especially for my mother, it’s been not easy for looking after such a demanding child, but you have given me the best you can offer.

Table of Content

Abstract 3

Acknowledgements 4

Chapter 1 Introduction 6

1.1 Relevance 6

1.2 Research Question 8

1.3 Aim 9

1.4 Methodology 9

1.5 Structure 10

Chapter 2 Theoretical Review 11

2.1 Introduction to Tourism 12

2.2 Evolution in Tourism Industry in China 14

2.2.1 First phase: a diplomatic channel to establish friendships (1949 – 1978) 14

2.2.2 Second phase: a gate opened to the world (1979 – 2000) 15

2.2.3 Third phase: a platform to show the image (2001 – present) 19

2.3 Conclusion on tourism 25

2.4 Air pollution and its status quo in China 27

2.4.1 Introduction to air pollution 27

2.4.2 the status quo in China 28

2.5 The sources of air pollutants and mitigating solutions 29

2.5.1 Retrieving the sources 29

2.5.2 Mitigation of air pollution 31

2.6 Conclusion on air quality 33

2.7 Geographical comparisons between tourism and air pollution 34

Chapter 3 Factors Influencing International Tourism Demand 36

3.1 Introduction 36

3.2 Determinants of attractiveness 38

3.3 Impacts of media publication on tourism demand 40

3.4 Typology of incidents 41

3.5 Case studies 43

3.5.1 Case 1: SARS in Singapore 44

3.5.2 Case 2: Street Crime in New Orleans 46

3.5.3 Case 3: Street Crime in Johannesburg 49

3.5.4 Conclusions on case studies 51

3.6 Hypotheses 52

Chapter 4 Empirical Models 54

4.1 Method 54

4.2 Data 55

4.2.1 Description 55

4.2.2 The dependent variable 56

4.2.3 The independent variables 56

4.3 Model Specification 67

Chapter 5 Results 70

5.1 Models 70

5.1.1 Results in general 70

5.1.2 Comparisons between different regions 77

5.2 Goodness-of-fit 81

Chapter 6 Discussion 86

6.1 Effects of air pollution 86

6.2 Effects of media publicity 88

Chapter 7 Conclusion and recommendations 90

7.1 Conclusion 90

7.2 Recommendations 91

Bibliography 93

Appendix 105

1. Result of Hausman test 105

2. Regression result excluding Lhasa 106

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