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Abstract

This paper analyses experiences with initiatives to stimulate a transition in urban tourist guides from ‘traditional urban guides’ to a new type of ‘entrepreneurial urban ecotourism guide’ in a Danish context, based on results of a three-year Innovation and Development of Urban Ecotourism (INUT) innovation project. The results of two guide surveys are analysed and discussed through the lenses of transition theory and theories on knowledge entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Results based on surveys and researchers’ observations indicate that a small but growing niche of urban ecotourism tours was established, as a result of the project guide training programme – mostly by experienced guide entrepreneurs. Guides experienced a transformation where sustainability became integrated into their mindset and tour products. In addition, they acquired a more normative and transformational style of guiding to educate the traveller and more confidence in their role as guide entrepreneurs. Sustainability has now been adopted into the regular tour guide training programme. The effect of the INUT niche formation, trying to influence the tourism regime from below, is now facilitated by a 2019 national paradigm shift towards sustainable tourism, creating top-down pressure for industry transformation. The guides may now be functioning as catalysts, facilitating the transformation towards sustainability in tourism.

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