This article shows that foreign tourism to the USSR from the 1950s on evolved from a political propaganda tool into what is defined in tourism studies as “ethnic tourism.” Ethnic tourism designates a type of exposure that centers on experiencing a different and presumably “authentic” ethnic culture. This change in the nature of Soviet foreign tourism was particularly explicit in the ways the Soviet authorities organized and framed travel to peripheries such as the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic for the sake of earning profit for the Soviet state. As tourism to Latvia increased and drew a larger and more diverse tourist population, the ethnic uniqueness of Latvians and their culture took precedence over demonstrations of the general superiority of Communist society. These arguments are substantiated with archival materials from the Riga branch of Inturist (the Central Administration of Foreign Tourism under the USSR Council of Ministers) stored in Latvia's Central State Archives in Riga.

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