Wang, J. and Liu, Y., 2013. Tourism-led land-use changes and their environmental effects in the southern coastal region of Hainan Island, China.
Tourism has been often considered as an effective way to promote economic growth for coastal areas in developing countries. As the most important tourist destination and the largest Special Economic Zone in China, Hainan chose tourism-led development and achieved rapid economic growth. This paper analyzes land-use changes driven by tourism-led development and their environmental effects during a period of time from 1991 to 2007 in Sanya City, southern coastal region of Hainan Island. High-resolution remote sensing and detailed socioeconomic data were used in the study. Based on a combination of remote sensing and geographic information systems methods, a matrix of land-use change was constructed to identify land-use changes between 1991 and 2007. The outcomes indicate that the changes from farmland to construction land and from forestland to orchard are the main transformation types. From 1991 to 2007, farmland and forestland decreased by 15% and 29% respectively; on the contrary, construction land and orchard increased by 242% and 258%. The transformation from farmland to construction land mainly occurred in plains along the coastline, while the changes from forestland to orchard mainly occurred in middle platform areas. Booming tourism not only led to the increased demand for tourism infrastructure and rapid urban expansion, but also boosted the demand for tropical fruit products quickly. However, rapid increases of tourism infrastructures occupied large fertile farmland, urban expansion caused construction land increase and farmland loss, and forest was converted to orchard, driven by the high speed of market demand of fruit products. Tourism-led development restructured the land-use pattern dramatically, which brought about landscape fragmentation, vegetation degeneration, and coastal erosion. Irrational tourism and land development have destroyed Sanya's tourism resources and dissipated its initial advantage to some extent, which will hinder the sustainable development of tourism. Finally, some suggestions are given to coordinate the tourism-led land development in coastal regions.