Dr. ShiNa Li from the University of Surrey in UK visited the School of Economics during the week of 29 May to 2 June. She is a co-worker on a project on Tourism and Poverty reduction, which is funded by the British Academy, together with Prof Andrea Saayman, Dr.Alicia Fourie, and Dr. Marco Scholtz. This is a 1-year project, which aims to investigate the influence that various aspects of tourism have on poverty.
During her visit, she presented some research results on the distributional effects of mega events. The case study presented investigates the effect of the Olympic Games, held in Beijing in 2008, on income distribution and opportunities to both urban and rural households in China. The exceptional circumstances in China, where the household registration system (hukou) distinguishes between a rural and urban person, hampers labour mobility. A person with a rural registration has access to poorer educational services and may not migrate to urban areas to search for work there. This has led to an increase in income disparity between urban and rural households in China.
The results of the study showed that China did not benefit from hosting the Olympic Games due to aspects such as tourism displacement (where tourists who would have visited the country rather do not because of the event) and strict visa regulations to control for possible terrorism activity during the Games. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 also contributed to fewer tourism arrivals than expected. The tertiary industry therefore saw a contraction of activity and within the urban setting, workers could move to secondary industries. However, increased unemployment in the rural areas were more persistent, due to the lack of opportunities and limited industries in rural areas of China.
The full reference of the paper is: Cao, Z., Li, S., Song, H. and Shen, S. (2016). The distributional effect of events on rural and urban households in China. Journal of Travel Research.