Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (8): 1411-1434.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1669-z

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Spatial evolution model of tourist destinations based on complex adaptive system theory:A case study of Southern Anhui, China

YANG Zhongyuan1, YIN Min2, XU Jiangang2,*(), LIN Wei3   

  1. 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
    3. College of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510640, China
  • Received:2018-06-20 Accepted:2018-09-12 Online:2019-08-25 Published:2019-12-13
  • Contact: XU Jiangang
  • About author:Yang Zhongyuan (1987-), PhD, specialized in tourist destination system. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No.51278239)


According to the complex adaptive systems theory, tourist destinations may be regarded as complex adaptive systems formed by multiple adaptive agent interactions and composed of an agent system, tourist attraction subsystem, tourist service facility subsystem, and external environment system. This paper explores the spatial evolutionary progress of the Southern Anhui tourist area. The period 1979 to 1990 comprised the formation stage of spatial agglomerates, during which tourist attractions centering on Huangshan Scenic Area and Jiuhuashan Scenic Area were gradually exploited and formed scale agglomeration; tourism spatial structure began to show the characteristics of agglomeration development, and Gini indexes of the number of tourists and tourism revenue increased significantly from 0.26 to 0.29, and from 0.33 to 0.35, respectively. From 1991 to 2008, the system experienced a growth stage in which Huangshan Scenic Area and Jiuhuashan Scenic Area were further developed with improved tourist service facilities. Rapid development of Xidi-Hongcun Scenic Area and establishment of Fantawild Tourist Area promoted the formation of more spatial agglomerates with larger scales; Gini indexes of the number of tourists and tourism revenue presented fluctuating changes, reaching low points of 0.15 and 0.25 in 2000 and 0.12 and 0.22 in 2007, respectively. From 2009 to the present day, the system has remained in a blowout-development stage, during which non-linear interactions among agents are strengthened; various emerging development factors generate cultural tourism, vacation tourism, rural tourism and other new tourism products jointly with traditional development factors. New tourism products form a large number of new spatial agglomerates that are interconnected, accelerating the spatial flow of tourists and tourism revenue and reducing the differences in tourism development levels within the region; Gini indexes of the number of tourists and tourism revenue declined steadily from 0.17 and 0.23 in 2009 to 0.12 and 0.15 in 2016.

Key words: complex adaptive system theory, spatial structure of tourist destination, spatial agglomerates, Gini index, Southern Anhui tourist area