Withholding explicit assessments in tourist-office talk

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This chapter examines the withholding of explicit assessments by tourist officers in response to enquiries that make such assessments relevant in tourist-office talk. Although there is no formal policy in place banning the production of assessments, tourist officers construct making explicit assessments in this sequential environment as a restricted activity. Drawing upon a large corpus of telephone calls in French, analysis shows that explicit personal assessments are withheld in favour of references to institutionalised value systems and recognisable normalised categories and descriptors such as star ranking, price range. These references provide clues for the callers to interpret and enable tourist officers to accomplish implicit evaluative work, whilst avoiding being heard as having made overt recommendations. Through such a practice, tourist officers manage issues of professional accountability and responsibility, constitute their professional identity as intermediaries between the public and the local business community and construct the principle of impartiality that characterises the tourist office.


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