Cultural tourism as salvation for petty capitalists: the pedicab drivers of the Las Vegas of the east

Cora Un In Wong, Weng Si Kuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


'Petty capitalism' refers to the informal self-employment engaged in by the unskilled poor in order to earn or augment their income. In the tourism industry, they work as unlicensed souvenir vendors, street-food hawkers, drivers, prostitutes, etc. The pedicab drivers of Macao belong to this category of petty capitalists. Drawing on thematic interviews supplemented by observational data, this article documents how the pedicab drivers of Macao survive and keep a sense of self-worth after the near annihilation of their industry as a result of urbanization, and how tourism has been, in addition to government support, a positive social change agent that allowed them to survive. The small literature on pedicabs either documents the marginal lifestyle and poverty of their drivers as informal tourism workers, often in the developing world, or look at pedicab as a sustainable activity in the tourism sector. The findings of this article address two gaps, namely, (1) a lack of documentation on the working life of the pedicab drivers as petty capitalists in a highly urbanized environment and on their degree of self-worth (2) a comparative lack of testimonials on how tourism can be a powerful agent in the 'worldmaking' that is in the creation of change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Tourism and Cultural Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Macao
  • cultural tourism
  • pedicabs
  • tourism workers
  • urbanization


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