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Tour Guides as Storytellers – From Selling to Sharing

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Due to changing tourist desires, the rise of the experience economy and technological innovations, the demand for stories has dramatically increased over the last few years. Consequently, an impressive demand for stories has generally emerged in tourism, and particularly in tour guiding. Based on a qualitative exploratory study, this paper identifies four major types of storytelling as an important feature, of which two types can be derived from and subdivided into three subgroups of organizations: official guides, alternative guides, entrepreneurial guides (commercial, event and coach tours), and relational guides (private, independent and residential guides). All types have different target groups, are organized differently and bring different kinds of stories, each using different experiential techniques. There is a clear development towards more topical and less historical stories, the use of experiential techniques, and a focus on niche tourists. However, young tour-guide organizations struggle to get on the radar of the established tourism industry because of their own anti-authoritarian position and the distrust of official guides.
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Keywords: Tour guide; dynamics; experience; storytelling; taxonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Flanders Tourist Board, Belgium

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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