Tourismwatch sheds light on the background: fighting windmills

The newsletter TourismWatch is a critical examination of tourism. And a platform for international NGOs.

Splendor and misery are close together in Morocco Photo: imago images/KausRose

The debates about travel, flight shame and overtourism are as heated as the climate, one more reason to talk about Tourism Watch. A newsletter with background information on global tourism, a critical examination, published by the Tourism Office of Bread for the World, the development agency of the Protestant Church in Germany.

"We ask: What effect does the economic activity of tourism have on local people? What about the participation of local residents in tourism projects and plans?" says Antje Monshausen, head of the Tourism Watch office. "We want to give a voice to those affected." There is a fine line between honest curiosity and tourist voyeurism. In the case of many offers, the question arises as to whether they are actually wanted by the local population or were rather developed for travelers.

The newsletter’s editorial team translates articles from the travel countries, written by NGOs, by women, trade unions or local providers with interesting projects. "The framework within which the focus runs is always justice: human rights, labor rights, equality, land rights and climate justice.

Tourism Watch has been around since 1995, and the Tourism Office at the Church Development Service has been around longer. It emerged from the dialogue with churches in the Caribbean and Asia. Their concern: classical information and education of tourists. Travelers to economically weaker countries should be better prepared, for example with regard to the sexual exploitation of children.

Antje Monshausen, TourismWatch

"We want to change tourism"

The information service today covers the relevant tourism topics: Tourism policy, cruise, climate discussion, voluntourism, overtourism, human rights, corporate responsibility. "We want to change tourism. We see a lot of consultancies in the field of sustainable tourism, but the belief in a different tourism, which is not only luxury industry, but integrated in regional development, which is about local people, is not widespread," says Antje Monshausen.

Tourism is the booming industry worldwide. The potential for the German tourism industry in developing and emerging countries is enormous. But although tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, only a few usually profit from it.

"Tourism criticism is tilting at windmills," Monshausen knows. But if it weren’t for grains of sand like Tourism Watch in the gears of the expanding travel industry, tourism would be even more off the leash.

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