Beach management strategy for small islands: Case studies of China
Beaches' development on small islands has become increasingly important due to touristic appeals on their unique landscapes and natural endowments. However, compared with large islands and continental areas, the natural conditions of these islands are quite poor, their degree of development is relatively low, and they are insufficiently managed. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to undertake comprehensive management activities for tourist beaches on small islands. Three small islands in China, i.e. Meizhou, Gulang, and Weizhou, were selected as case studies to develop a preliminary beach management strategy. On the basis of a literature search, field observation, interviews with relevant officers, visits to shopkeepers and residents, tourist questionnaires and internet comment collection, this study summarizes the status of tourist beach management on small islands, analyzes tourist perceptions, and establishes a SWOT framework. A comprehensive tourist beach management system is developed with natural environmental, facility-cultural, and management sub-systems that are highly interactive and interrelated. The development pathway of tourist beach management on small islands can be subdivided into three individual stages, namely, passive, positive, and balanced development stages. Management should focus on the island's unique advantages and infrastructure building in the stage of passive development, management facilities improvement, recreational activities, policies and regulations in the stage of positive development, and balance tourist numbers against the ecological environment, the needs of residents and the tourist experience in the stage of balanced development. Moreover, the beach management being appropriate for a small island is highly correlated with its natural and/or cultural landscapes.