Perceptions of authenticity at a heritage destination: An examination of visitor perceptions of authenticity at South Luogu Alley, Beijing

Jonathon Day, Xiaolin Shi, Liping Cai, Howard Adler

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Authenticity, often cited as an important component of heritage tourism, is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. A central issue in understanding authenticity is to determine what is perceived to be authentic. The present study examined visitor perceptions of the authenticity of the South Luogu Alley (SLA), a Hutong in Beijing. Described as a “must-see” destination for visitors to Beijing seeking to experience traditional “Hutong” culture, SLA has been redeveloped to incorporate both traditional and modern facilities. The inclusion of new building materials, pseudotraditional architecture, and Western-influenced architecture has raised concerns about the authenticity of SLA. The present study examined perceptions of authenticity of 353 visitors to the SLA. A self-administered survey was used for the study. It examined perceptions of specific elements of the destination and the destination as a whole. It also analyzed the impact of demographic factors and visitor experience on perceptions of authenticity. The present study found that for many visitors the external environment and architecture were most important elements contributing to perceptions of authenticity. The study determined that visitors' understanding of authenticity is best described as “constructive” and that a variety of personal factors can influence perceptions of authenticity. It also found that visitors' criteria for authenticity tend to be contextual.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Analysis
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Cite this