Journal of Sustainable Tourism vol:20 issue:1 pages:9-22
In community-centered cultural tourism, the encounter with the ‘Other’ is central and the role of professional intermediaries in facilitating this experience crucial. Tour guides are often the only ‘locals’ with whom tourists spend a considerable amount of time. These tourism service workers have considerable agency in the image-building process of the peoples and places visited. They not only shape tourist imaginaries but indirectly influence the self-image of those visited too. Using ethnographic examples from long-term fieldwork in Tanzania, this paper scrutinizes how local guides handle their public role as ambassadors of communal cultural heritage and how communities variously react to their tourismifying narratives and practices. Selected modules from the well-established and award-winning Cultural Tourism Program (CTP) are taken as an instructive case study. Findings reveal multiple issues of power and resistance that help us grasp what is at the root of many community-centered tourism conflicts and how these can be overcome.