100 issues of the Tourism Watch Newsletter
On our own account
In 1994, the Tourism Watch newsletter - at that time still an analogue, specialised press-type news service - was sent out for the first time, making information from tourist destinations in the Global South available here in Germany. Soon, one of the distinguishing features of the Watch would be not only writing about people but giving them a stage to express themselves in their own words. It was a radically new idea to no longer describe the people from tourist destinations as clichéd, exotic, and usually silent, actors in the backdrop of tourism, but instead to place them and their outlook on the global tourism industry at the heart of the matter. The vision of the early trailblazers of the Tourism Watch newsletter, first Ludmilla Tüting and Martin Stäbler, then Christina Kamp and Heinz Fuchs, carries on to this day.
Newsletter articles are regularly reprinted in textbooks, embraced by tour operators, find their way into university lectures and are used as the basis of research by journalists time and again. Since we started publishing our feature articles in English as well, we have found our articles reprinted in countries far and wide.
The Tourism Watch Newsletter is a joint project
We owe our special thanks to Christina Kamp, who stepped in with Issue 42, striving, often in personal conversations with the authors, to ensure that, in the end, well-written articles are created from text fragments, personal anecdotes and scientific papers. For the past few issues, Lea Thin has also participated, showing a strong commitment to providing editorial support for the articles. Here at the office, Laura Jäger put her personal signature on Issues 83-100 in particular and has also devoted countless hours to thoroughly renewing the appearance of our website! Before we sent out the Tourism Watch newsletter, Evi Leibfritz also offers important support by regularly volunteering as our first and toughest reader.
One hundred issues, each with four to eight feature articles, represent countless hours of work by members of grass roots movements, NGOs and concerned citizens initiatives, as well as scholars and journalists. They all confide in us to make a difference by publishing their articles so that readers in faraway Germany can learn about their circumstances. To these people we are truly grateful!
100 voices for the 100th issue
However, we do not want to merely look to the past today, but rather towards the future. For this reason, we have turned to those who make the newsletter what it is - our NGO partners around the world, important network partners in Germany and experts in the fields of science, the media and business. We have surveyed 100 people about where they believe tourism is today and what direction it is developing in.
Transforming tourism together
Tourism can only be viable for the future if it respects human rights, improves the economic and social situation of individuals and is sensitive towards the environment and climate. But what are the key factors to bring about this necessary transformation in tourism? Those surveyed could choose up to three responses out of 14 subject areas. Their answers clearly show that tourism must be regarded in its entirety: Among our top 3, we have one environmental issue (reducing emissions), one economic/social challenge (decent work) and one overriding issue to be able to achieve all the other objectives: participation in decision-making and involvement on equal terms. The responses by those surveyed provide us with important guidance in our own political work with ministry departments and businesses.
Tourism as it stands today
We also wanted to know where tourism is heading today, whether it was moving in a positive direction or towards a more negative trend. The assessment in relation to climate change, especially, is dramatic. Industry experts and civil society agree that, in terms of climate change, tourism is moving in the diametrically opposite direction of where it should be going. The pendulum is swinging in a clearly negative direction when it comes to use of resources, working conditions and land rights too. The possibilities for involvement look somewhat better, and the chances for interaction between tourists and locals have an even more positive outlook. However, our network experts still feel that tourism policy and the travel business have a long way to go in this regard to truly leverage the potential of tourism.
Moving on to the next 100 issues
We were especially pleased to receive the congratulations from our partners and their acknowledgement of our contribution to the necessary transformation of tourism. They highlighted in particular the attention to detail and our push to constantly dig a little bit deeper and portray the consequences of the development of tourism on people. The newsletter’s stance of clearly pointing out the responsibilities of economics and politics was also praised. The newsletter plays an important role as a watchdog or devil’s advocate because it covers topics like climate justice, local participation and human rights, thereby influencing the development of the tourism sector.
Representatives in the fields of science, education and journalism also reported back that our articles and resources provide an important source of information for their own work. In addition to this acknowledgement, businesses perceive us as a critical, but constructive counterpart. The newsletter provides tour operators with information about local stakeholders that would otherwise seldom be available to them. The fact that Tourism Watch is more than just an information medium becomes clear in the following remark:
“Knowledge becomes action - in this sense: Tourism Watch clarifies, creates contexts and connections, gives guidance on being powerful, as a consumer and touristic economy, in the sense of global justice.”
Like some of our well-wishers, we too are looking forward to the next 100 issues!
Antje Monshausen is the head of the Tourism Watch desk at Brot für die Welt. The first issue of Tourism Watch she helped design was Issue No 51 in June 2008.