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From Old West to Cosmopolitan: Changing Narratives of Oklahoma City Tourist Guidebooks

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This article seeks to bridge the gap in scholarship between entrepreneurial urbanism and the understanding of place image as presented through tourist guidebooks. Tourist guidebooks have long been used to sell regions and attractions to prospective tourists. Narratives in these guides often shift to reflect the changing economics, politics, and culture of a region or city. More recently, the rise of entrepreneurial urbanism has been one of those factors that have impacted tourist guidebooks. The (re)construction of a place image through entrepreneurial policies results in the promotion of a select package of facilities or highlighting specific attributes associated with that place. This article illustrates how entrepreneurial urban projects and policies can directly shape a city's tourist promotions. I use Oklahoma City as a case study to explore these impacts and examine more than 30 years of tourist guidebooks to understand the changing narratives of the city in light of entrepreneurial urban policies. More specifically, I show that Oklahoma City officials shifted tourist narratives from overt Old West constructs to constructs rooted in cosmopolitanism in light of entrepreneurial agendas, like the Metropolitan Area Projects and business improvement districts.

Keywords: COSMOPOLITAN CITY; ENTREPRENEURIAL URBANISM; OKLAHOMA CITY; OLD WEST/NEW WEST; TOURIST GUIDEBOOKS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 19, 2020

This article was made available online on January 23, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "From Old West to Cosmopolitan: Changing Narratives of Oklahoma City Tourist Guides".

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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