US tourists had been exploring Cuba with government licensed local guides on cultural exchange trips since 1999. In 2016, changes in US–Cuban relations have further opened Cuba to US tourists and some loosening of the government controlled tourism system. This research examines tour guides’ role in formulating US tourists’ perceptions of Cuba before more free-market tourism, including tour guiding, was allowed. Cuban government guides that work with a US receptive operator were interviewed using a semi-structured script by a local bilingual researcher. Cohen’s [(1985). The tourist guide. Annals of Tourism Research, 12(1), 5–29. doi:10.1016/0160-7383(85)90037-4] tour guide communicative roles and Canally and Carmichael’s [(2011). Political economy of destination image: Manufacturing Cuba. Tourism Analysis, 16, 731–746] image model with government prism filter were useful to interpret findings. Cohen’s tour guide roles were found amongst the government employed guides except for fabrication. Canally and Carmichael’s [(2011). Political economy of destination image: Manufacturing Cuba. Tourism Analysis, 16, 731–746] model was supported by the omnipresence of guarded responses by tour operators and their adherence to government controlled jobs and messaging to tourists, particularly US tourists.
- destination image
- government-sanctioned tourism businesses
- Tour guides
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management