Shortened, postponed, cancelled – Public Link speaks with travel journalists on their current situation

Shortened, postponed, cancelled – Public Link speaks with travel journalists on their current situation

Month: September
Year: 2020

Despite Corona, travelling is possible again to a limited extent. However, the entire travel and tourism industry was turned completely upside down in 2020. The consequences will not only be felt by the industry itself – according to UNWTO, around 120 million jobs worldwide will be affected by the consequences for travel – travel journalism has also experienced a hard hit. After all, no travel means no destination articles, and that in turn means: cut, postponed, cancelled – as the new daily routine for travel journalists. Instead, Germany-based topics and regional vacations, excursion articles and DACH-region travel blogs are becoming more popular and seem to be the future of “long-distance travel”. Tourism itself thrives on personal encounters and experiences. Hardly any other industry has met as often and as happily at trade fairs, annual conferences, congresses and events in recent years as the travel and tourism industry . But as Verena Wolff, travel journalist and freelance journalist, describes the present situation and problem of travel journalism: “Travel journalism without travel – that is like climbing mountains in the lowlands, like riding a bicycle with a flat tire…”. She and two other colleagues told Public Link about their experiences in the past months, changes in the industry and the advantages for the future of travel journalism:

“The situation for travel journalists is problematic for two reasons. On the one hand, many publications currently publish no or significantly fewer articles due to a lack of advertisements and if they do, then mostly only on German regions. Other publications are bankrupt or postponing their publication dates. Secondly, research trips are now only possible to a very limited extent. Many service providers no longer support journalists. Even the cancellation of trips that have already been firmly planned has resulted in some cases of considerable costs that cannot be reimbursed. I think that a recovery will only start very slowly and will not lead back to the level before Corona. These are my experiences.” – Detlef Berg, various daily newspapers

“The strangest thing was the time from March on, when during the lockdown no travel sections appeared at all. During this time I mainly wrote service stories about traveling in corona times for the paper. When it became clear that at least domestic travel – at first only Bavaria was considered a perspective – was possible, we finally put the supplement Gute Reise back in the paper on May 9th. Since then, it is only two, sometimes three pages thin, although there would even be ads for more pages. But Corona forces us to reduce the size of the paper. It’s strange not to have any long-distance travel in the issue, while the editorial offices are virtually overwhelmed by German and Austrian topics. But that will certainly come back when there is a vaccine, hopefully in 2021. All in all, Corona was also a reason to remain thematically regional in the future. But I’m not missing out on long-distance press trips at the moment, I’ve simply taken more modest trips in Europe this year, and instead of Corfu I went to the Black Forest. My France summer journey with the family and the camper to Burgundy was planned anyway, as well as a week on the houseboat. In this respect nothing has changed. We’ll still get through the year. The main beneficiaries are vacation rentals and the camping industry. At the moment I am most curious if the winter season will run under restrictions as well or whether we’ll have to skip skiing this year.” – Matthias Niese, Nürnberger Nachrichten

“Travel journalism without traveling – it’s like climbing mountains in the lowlands, like riding a bicycle with a flat tire. One is thwarted, nothing functions anymore. Of course you can look at pictures, travel in your head again to the places you have already been. But there is something missing – most of it. The sounds, the smells, the experience. The feeling of whether or not one feels comfortable in the place. And above all: the people. The hosts. Those who make sure every day that a reporter on his travels knows the best spots to watch the Northern Lights, the secret places where you can get a moose or a reindeer in front of your lens. The stories are told from their homeland, which make a place experienceable. You have to like travelling, being on the road. Also the life out of the suitcase, every night in another accommodation. But anyone who likes and that currently feels rather locked up. Because many things are not possible or only possible with restrictions. And some things have the aftertaste of a bad feeling,  especially being in crowds. However, the situation also has one good thing: instead of wandering off into the distance, you get to know the local area better.” – Verena Wolff, Freie Journalistin (dpa and others)