New Silk Road

[Translate to Englisch:] Neue Seidenstraße
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The New Silk Road or "Belt and Road Initiative" was launched in 2013 by the Peoples Republic of China as a global development project. Meanwhile, over 150 countries and partners have joined the initiative with the common goal of infrastructure development and trade promotion. However, in the interconnectedness and complexity of the New Silk Road, there are a number of challenges - especially in the local and sustainable integration of the respective projects. In this context, we are conducting research in particular on a regional integration of the New Silk Road, which, among other things, takes up models of tourism and regional development.

 

Journal Publications

Cultural Tourism Routes as Incubators for Innovation and Economic Diversification : a Potential Analysis in the Framework of the New Silk Road Initiative in Azerbaijan.

In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, 2020

Authors:
Arne Schuhbert
Hannes Thees
Valentin Herbold
Johanna Weinreiter
Markus Kantsperger

Link: https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/zfw/ahead-of-print/article-10.1515-zfw-2019-0021/article-10.1515-zfw-2019-0021.xml

Abstract
Cultural routes are today a widespread phenomenon throughout the Industrialized Countries (IC) and have become more and more prominent as a tool for tourism development in recent years (Flognfeldt, 2005:37; Meyer, 2004:5). For countries in the Southern Caucasus, who profit from their bridging position between Europe and Asia, the planned revival of the Ancient Silk Road (ASR) in form of the New Silk Road (NSR) offers substantial potentials for economic diversification by means of tourism as a catalyzing industry. On the case of Azerbaijan, this study analyzes the potential to trigger regional economic diversification within the existing national destination-system in a framework of route development. To this end, the methodological approach builds upon a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to diagnose the current degree of cluster maturity in the system, following the question of how Azerbaijan as a system of regional destination can access the transnational route system of the NSR.

Of routes and corridors: Challenges and opportunities for Silk Road destinations in the southern Caucasus.

In: Journal of Tourism, Heritage & Services Marketing, 2020

Authors:
Arne Schuhbert
Hannes Thees

Link: https://zenodo.org/record/3835829#.Xw62QefgpEY

Abstract
Purpose
: Under the title of Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI), China has launched a global development program, which spans many regions and sectors. Tourism initiatives in particular, can occupy an interlinking position between infrastructure and services, and between global and local projects. This paper addresses the problem of the global-local link by critically examining a case at the southern Caucasus, as tourism is considered as a key industry for economic diversification in all three countries examined.

Methods: Based on a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach, the study is about critically investigating the current state of challenges and opportunities for tourism-induced, integrated regional development, with particular focus on potential obstacles for regional and national destination competitiveness.

Results: Results reveal that the BRI offers a basis for export-diversification in tourism and non-tourism economic sectors. Azerbaijan has the potential to integrate BRI activities into its local economic system but depends highly on the development of the Trans-Eurasian Corridor and the readiness of local entrepreneurs and institutions to support and extend development initiatives.

Implications: The implementation of the BRI offers a significant opportunity for many rural regions to proactively benefit from increasing tourism demand, by linking local initiatives and industries with tourism-related projects embedded in the BRI.

Towards Local Sustainability of Mega Infrastructure: Reviewing Research on the New Silk Road

In: Sustainability, 2020

Author:
Hannes Thees

Link: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/24/10612

Abstract
The Belt and Road Initiative is the leading project in the regions along the ancient Silk Road. This aims to revive the New Silk Road (NSR) as a transnational space towards an era of new regional integration and globalization. Despite the potential economic effects on a global scale, local sustainability remains questionable. Building upon the central engagement in infrastructure improvements, this article aims to investigate the role of local sustainability in research along the New Silk Road. Starting with 597 scientific articles, this article conducts a systematic literature review on four levels of concretization to characterize the research field of the New Silk Road, and to develop in-depth insights systematically. The results reveal a research focus on economic growth, which is lacking in environmental considerations and especially the socio-cultural dimension of sustainability on a local scale. Future directions in local sustainability should therefore include local stakeholders to build a joint understanding of sustainability by recognizing the characteristics of regionalism upon which manifold local support of mega infrastructure can evolve. Given these findings, the New Silk Road emerges as a field of study that calls for interdisciplinary research on different spatial levels.

Local service industry and tourism development through the global trade and infrastructure

In: The Service Industries Journal, 2019

Authors:
Harald Pechlaner
Hannes Thees
Wei Manske-Wang
Anna Scuttari

Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02642069.2019.1623204

Abstract
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Republic of China is a global infrastructure project with high trade ambitions, but uncertain regional outcomes. This exploratory analysis investigates the drivers and the processes enabling positive regional effects of the BRI in terms of local service industry development. Under the interpretation of the BRI as a global transport system, we identify and explore three levels of analysis: the global scale of the BRI, the regional scale of its corridors and the local scale of transit regions. Along the Trans-Caspian corridor, Georgia is analyzed as a unique example of transit region aiming deliberately to develop its tertiary sector around the BRI infrastructure. To assess the attitude of stakeholders towards the BRI and its impacts on local service development, a qualitative research strategy is applied. Nineteen semi-structured interviews are processed using the GABEK method. Results reveal uncertain positions towards the BRI initiative. However, a need for a national strategy and a transnational governance system clearly stands out to enforce transit countries and counterbalance the dependency on China’s foreign investments. The intervention of national governments is deemed as crucial also to facilitate knowledge transfer, business opportunities and to increase bottom-up participation of local inhabitants.

Editorials

China and the New Silk Road - Challenges and Impacts on the Regional and Local Level.

Book Contributions

Cross-Border Tourism in the Southern Caucasus - The Silk Road as a Facilitator for Joint Products.

Tourismus entlang der Neuen Seidenstraße. Chancen für eine integrierte Regional- und Destinationsentwicklung

Preparing the New Silk Road for Regional Development and Exploring a Research Agenda.

Blog

Is the Silk Road a Road of Fear? Challenges of Global Transformation

In: University of California, Santa Barbara, global-e series on Re-Globalization, 2020

Authors:
Harald Pechlaner
Hannes Thees

Link: https://www.21global.ucsb.edu/global-e/april-2020/silk-road-road-fear-challenges-global-transformation

Introduction
The concept of the Silk Road calls up a variety of images and ideas. As the range and global interrelatedness of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) shows, a new kind of globalization may arise out of it that may become a driver of “re-globalization” (Benedikter and Kofler 2019). Within this framework, it is essential to understand the mechanisms and concepts behind BRI, which are floating at the interface of a variety of global projects, international reactions, regional effects, and the necessity of a “Global Transformation Design.”