Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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“No worries brother”: The blurred boundaries between surfing tour guides and their guests
Nick Towner, Zaina Theresa

Last modified: 2018-07-02


Tour guides have been labelled pathfinders, leaders and culture brokers and ultimately are responsible for a successful tour. The dynamics of a tour guide on a commercial surfing tour are unique from most traditional tours whereby the guide is completely immersed in the surfing expedition with the clients. Together they eat, sleep, travel and surf with boundaries between tour guide and the clients becoming increasingly blurred. This is the first paper to explore the experiences of a surfing tour guide and evaluate the role of the guide on a commercial surfing tour. Data for this study was collected through participant observations on approximately 50 surfing tours conducted in New Zealand between January 2011 and October of 2016. Initial findings highlight the requirements of a surfing tour guide go well beyond what is expected from guides in traditional tour guiding positions. Additional requirements such as first aiding, surf coaching and preparing food create added workload on the guides. Regardless of these extra responsibilities surf guiding remains one of the only paid employment opportunities that allows surfers to surf therefore there was a feeling that going the extra mile was just ‘business as usual’. A major finding of this study was the emotional interconnectedness between the guide and client from surfing together in the waves was something very special. The bond formed in some cases were quite exceptional with guests leaving as ‘brothers’ and friendships lasting years after the tour has been completed.

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