Historical and geographical context in festival tourism development

Ling Ma, Alan A. Lew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Festivals have increasingly become a significant tool for economic development through both tourism and the re-imaging and re-branding of cities and regions as modern cultural centers. To understand the issues and challenges of festival tourism events, it is important to know the historical and geographical context in which they occur. Conceptually, the historical context can be viewed through the degree to which an event has a vernacular indigenous origin or is newly created. The geographical context, on the other hand, reflects the degree to which a festival is defined by the place in which it occurs or is more global in its thematic orientation. A contextual framework for festival tourism that takes these two factors into account results in four types of festival events: Local Heritage Festivals, Local Contemporary Festivals, National Heritage Festivals, and Global Contemporary Festivals. These four festival types face issues related to their local identity, uniqueness, liminality, and authenticity. The contextual framework for festival tourism is applied to the current situation of rapid festival development in China, with recommendations that Chinese event managers need to focus more on historically and geographically meaningful themes developed in partnership with local populations if they want to ensure an event's long-term success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Authenticity
  • China
  • Event management
  • Festival tourism
  • Festivals
  • Globalization
  • Liminality
  • Local identity
  • Marketing
  • Modernity
  • Sense of place
  • Special events
  • Tradition
  • Uniqueness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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