The research in the fields of social -cultural impacts of tourism development began in the 1960s'. In several decades, a lot of case studies have been cumulated, and both theory and methodology become more and more perfect. A systematic introduction about the research in this area will benefit greatly for the related researches in China. The paper according to the differences of the research theories and methodologies in this area, divide the research history into three phases to introduce the key viewpoints, research methods, and important publications. The first phase focused on descriptive research and unilateral evaluation in 1960s or 1970s. In this phase, some researchers began to pay attention to the impacts of tourism on destinations, a great lot of papers and publications were released and various impact-related international conferences were held. However, the researches behaved unilateral obviously, the approach of study was mainly fields work; the places of study were mainly in developing countries and regions; the results of study were mostly descriptive fruit; and in this phase, most researchers denied the evaluations of tourism exploitation, emphasizing the negative impacts of tourism. The second phase focused on subdividing and quantitative analysis in 1980s. In this phase, the methods based on social investigation and statistical analysis became the mainstream, and questionnaires were used widely.
In addition, two conceptual frameworks were shaped, the three models mentioned above and the theory of social exchange. However, it was hard to go further for the social investigation because of the lack of theory and methodology, and the application of the results is limited. At the same time, some researchers still went on their research in anthropological way of fields work. After 1990s, it was the third phase of multi-subject and synthetical study. In this phase, most researchers paid more attention to the researches based on the understanding of the system of tourism and social-cultural background of different destinations. And it was mainly the combination of qualitative research and quantitative research in methodology. In addition, the theory of social statement was introduced into the fields of research on the impact of tourism. Finally, the paper point out that multi-subject and synthetical study will be the tendency of the social -cultural impacts of tourism research.