I'm really not confident that I'm not making a fool of myself on this one. But hey! If I am, I can be sure that somebody will let me know soon enough!
There's a Chinese travel guide agency, KanXiQi.com, promoting itself through the travel trade industry right now, with one eye on the forthcoming 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
They've just announced the launch of the English version of their website and it is rather... unusual.
I've listed it in the Research Notes section on the China page.
It is a detailed database of 700 private guides available for hire, who just happen to all be young women aged 20-30 (I can't find any male guides on the database)!
Not only can you select a "guide" on location, price, languages spoken and qualifications, but there are also photos and personal details such as hobbies, interests, age and height.
I'm probably just being really naive, but it looks genuine... although maybe a little 'over the top' in terms of European sensitivities.
I mean, how much should I read between the lines when it says: "Everybody can join in our part-time private tour guide team to help travelers insight through his/her own place, in exchange for a number of benefits including money, friendship, joy and more"?