The concept of tourist guides as "mediators" of local culture fails to capture the political component of guiding. Governments use tourism strategically in order to address issues of national significance. Based on an analysis of the policies of tourist guiding of the Indonesian government under Suharto's New Order regime, this article discusses the impact of state propaganda on the narratives of tourist guides there. Two related questions are raised: what strategies does the government apply to professionalize and to control tourist guides, and to what extent does government intervention constitute restrictions to and opportunities for the guides activities? © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.