Citizens are essential ingredients in tourism. The inhabit places, and they make them livable, human, existing, and without them tourism destinations would be artificial. Some of the locals are really active, the “greeters”.
“Greeters are volunteers that love their city so much they volunteer to show their city to visitors. Not as a guide, but more like a newly met friend! Greeters will show special places that mean something in their lives. They would also show things visitors specifically ask for such as parks, shopping, architecture or a less well-known neighborhood.” (www.globalgreeters.info)
As forwarded by Global Greeters, Greeters and Greeter destinations share the same core values:
1) Greeters are volunteers, a friendly face for those visiting a city/destination
2) Greeters welcome individuals and may serve small groups of up to six people
3) Meeting a Greeter is free of charge
4) Visitors are welcomed without any kind of discrimination.
5) Greeter programs support sustainable tourism. Programs respects natural and man-made environments, it brings both cultural and economical enrichment to the local communities. Programs aim for a lasting positive image of each destination.
6) Greeter programs create a mutually enriching opportunity for cultural exchange, create links between ordinary people in creating a better world.
The global greeters network organize greeting organisations in many countries: Argentina, Australia, China, Belgium, France, Croatia, Canada. See for example the local page for Brisbane, Australia.
Are greeters making tourism difficult for professionals? Perhaps to some extent, but the movement make places more attractive for tourist. Greets do not attempt to compete with guides for examples inside museums and attractions.
The greeters are not professionals, but generally they receive a lot of positive feedback, for example on Tripadvisor. And they do also earn a living, as guest can – and do – give tips to the greeters.
The business model has more similarities with aibnb.com, where local provide private accommodation to tourists.