Tourism employment has the potential to effect cultural change within a community, as well as cause a shift in social status for those employed. It can modify social organizations and cause changes in cultural values that, in turn, may have implications for the determination of social status (Cukier-Snow and Wall 1993). Guiding is a particularly relevant example of tourism employment activity which demonstrates how such employment may result in the emergence of high-status occupations acceptable to the local society.
Guiding is a service provided to tourists by certain members of the local community. In addition to providing basic transportation services, guides require a knowledge of local customs, culturally important sites and societal organizations. Thus guides are often seen as “cultural emissaries,” providing a link between the tourists and the local community. Guiding is also an occupation that is both demanding and rewarding in all senses of the words. As a result, societal recognition of these job characteristics can result in guides being accorded a relatively high social status.
This chapter begins with a review of the literature on tourism employment and the effect tourism employment has on social status. After introducing Bali, Indonesia, as a tourism employment case-study, the chapter then goes on to situate guiding within the broader context of tourism employment, and presents the results of interviews conducted with guides in two coastal resort villages in Bali: Sanur and Kuta. It concludes with an examination of the personal, societal and policy implications of tourism employment in Bali.