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‘Not the Blue Mosque, where would you like to take me?’ Place Making through the narratives of taxi drivers in Istanbul.

Authors: Sharon Wilson*, Northumbria University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Transportation Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: automobilities, tourism, placemaking, resistance, socialities
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

According to (Ap &Wong, 2001; Jafari, 1985) tour guides have been around as long as people have travelled, yet as a profession have received relatively little attention in tourism literature. Whilst this paper is not about tour guiding per se, it investigates the ways in which visitors experience Istanbul through narratives of taxi drivers; who whilst not identified as `cultural brokers’ (McKean,1976) unwittingly act as unofficial tour guides of the city. As past research has mostly focused on the role of tour leaders (Luoh &Tsaur, 2013), emotional labour (Wong & Wang, 2009) and quality of service (Heung, 2008; Mak et al., 2011), this ethnographic study explores the links between the tour guiding industry and taxi services that comply with the ‘official’ tourism marketing rhetoric, with the everyday practice of ‘cabbies’ as “commonly assumed to be passive and guided by established rules” (De Certeau 1984: xi). By asking taxi drivers, ‘Where would you like to take me?’, we have been able to establish how routes are negotiated in the temporary relationships between drivers and passengers as social, cultural and economic relationships orientate representations of place. In this empirical account therefore, we consider the moral compass of the taxi driver who whilst operates within regimes of ‘official’ branding rubric, due to their autonomy can also constitute alternatives by taking their customers ‘off the beaten track’.

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