Postprint of: Chen, HY & Weiler, B in 2014, 'Chinese donkey friends in Tibet: evidence from the cyberspace community', Journal of China Tourism Research, vol. 10, no. 4, Domestic tourism in China: emerging trends and issues, special iss., pp.475-492.
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The aim of this paper is to provide insights into Chinese backpacking tourism in Tibet. Chinese backpackers, referred to as “donkey friends” in China, are distinctively Generation Y born in the 80s and 90s. They grew up at a time when China shifted political power to Deng iaoping’s explorations with capitalism and greater openness. Aided in part by the diffusion f the Internet and web-based donkey friend associations, backpacking flourished in China. through a virtual ethnography of a leading Internet travel forum, it has been found that Tibet appeals to Chinese backpackers mainly because of its natural environment. Backpackers in Tibet emphasize the “donkey friend” spirit and self-actualization as an important part of their trip. There is a gap between supply and demand for donkey friend travel in Tibet, particularly n terms of accommodation facilities. Attention should also be paid to managing the relationship between the local community and backpackers.