Concepts and Cases
Edited by Joseph Mark S. Munoz
Chapter 7: The Challenges for Tourism Microenterprises in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Southwest China
Sacha Rawlence1 INTRODUCTION The microenterprises in this chapter are tourist guesthouses owned and operated by farming families in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, in rural Yunnan Province, Southwest China. The families include a range of ethnic minorities, but all have a common aim of increasing their income and diversifying their livelihoods through their involvement in inbound tourism. This location lends itself to microenterprise, due to its level of economic development being below the national average, its lack of large employers and its dispersed rural population. The enterprises display some characteristics commonly associated with rural microenterprise, including few or no employees outside the immediate family, an aim of generating non-farm income, and undertaking seasonal part-time work alongside farming (Nowak, 1989). However, the business model adopted by many of these guesthouses is unexpected: it is characterized by self-reliance, with in-house production leading to withdrawal and isolation from market relationships, rather than by deep integration into a local trading network that could otherwise support the specialization of activities. The author suspects that this model might not result solely from a deliberate choice by the proprietors, as any future growth of these microenterprises will depend on wider trade and specialization, but that it might in fact have been determined by the challenges posed by the environment. The theories of transaction costs and of institutions will be used to examine this environment, and to suggest which elements might direct the tendency towards isolation. 74 The challenges for tourism microenterprises in Southwest China 75 TRANSACTION COST THEORY...
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