While there exists an abundant literature on the way religious sites deal with tourists, little has been written specifically on how Buddhist monasteries visited by large numbers of believers and nonbelievers strive to preserve their physical fabric and atmosphere of sanctity. This article describes and analyzes how the resident monastic orders of Pu-Tuo-Shan, China, protect their monasteries and nunneries and maintain their lifestyle of prayer and meditation while hosting nearly six million visitors a year. The findings, based on observation and grounded research methods, reveal the use of “soft” visitor management techniques inspired by the spirit of Buddhism. It is also found that the visitors are classified by the monks and nuns into three categories, one of which—not the tourists—is more problematic, namely the Xianke, or “incense burners.” It is concluded that currently these methods are effective, although growing numbers pose an increasing challenge.
- monastic community
- visitor management