Objective and Background

Every year millions of holiday makers spend their holidays all over the world, travelling to the most remote corners of the earth. The causes for this roaming urge are manifold. The decision on where to travel to and which kind of holiday to chose is increasingly influenced by the audio-visual media. Advertising spots, travel videos and tourist information features on TV are becoming increasingly important for holiday planning or holiday assessments.

Film producers continue to focus their attention on attractive travel destinations, with descriptions and stories from and on holiday resorts in developing countries proliferating over the years. The increasing number of broadcasting channels of public and private TV stations, and the establishment of special channels for travel programmes offer an increasingly broad range of contributions from all over the world to the public. It is this very boost that creates a necessity for quality standards and for criteria that will help to appraise valuable films for the public.

The viewer normally assumes that the film shows a genuine image of reality, an image of what he has to expect in the foreign environment. Yet, films are always made with a particular purpose; their aim is to make an impression on the viewer. The film, i.e. the film producer or the agent, wants to convey something, to send a message, and this message can be defined and be oriented towards certain interests.

It is common knowledge that there are bad films as well as good films that are easily comprehended and appreciated. To facilitate evaluation of films, criteria must be developed and producers persuaded to acknowledge these criteria.

This insight led the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Studienkreis (Study Institute for Tourism and Development) to make an effort to improve the quality of tourist information and advertising films at the end of the 80s. The initiators agreed to award the TOURA D'OR Awards to film and television contributions which

  • propagate a kind of tourism that puts the least possible burden on people, societies, culture and nature in the host countries;
  • encourage travellers to look behind the tourist scenes in order to better comprehend the everyday reality of the host countries;
  • encourage travellers to meet the population of the host country on the basis of mutual respect;
  • offer practical hints on how to behave adequately and sensitively in the country and with the people;
  • show positive examples of socially responsible, environmentally compatible and therefore sustainable tourism projects or offers;
  • deal with negative aspects and impacts of tourism in a critical and constructive way.

In this manner, the international film contest TOURA D'OR also honours film productions that propagate a socially responsible, environmentally compatible and therefore sustainable tourism.

The criteria are subject to an ongoing qualifying process. They are continually reviewed by a short-listing jury and the jury under the aspect of their feasibility and practicability.

The invitation for submissions to the international contest takes place every two years. The following categories of tourism-related films are admitted to the contest:

  • Information films and documentaries
  • Advertising films and advertising spots
  • Magazines and service contributions, and
  • Other productions (e.g. films)

The TOURA D'OR contest was first initiated in 1990. In the same year, the prize was awarded during the PHOTOKINA in Cologne. For the sixth contest of the TOURA D'OR in 2000, the venue of the award ceremony was moved to the ITB Berlin where the best films in the contest are shown to a wide public.

The winners in the different contest categories receive the TOURA D'OR trophy in connection with a credential. Prizes are not given in different grades - such as gold/silver/bronze. In some cases a "TOURA D'OR Special Award" or a "Commendation" can be awarded. Since 1992, the Regional Film Services have been awarding the Special "Pedagogy" Award for particularly valuable contributions in the field of pedagogy.

Over the years it has been observed that journalistic contributions come closest to the contest ambitions. Thus far, there are no indications that the commercial tourism industry is making an effort to portray a differentiated image in advertising their destinations. Among the entries received we mostly find television companies (public and commercial stations) which, through an ever growing number of features, try to give their viewers a certain world view/conception of the world.

In the thirteen competitions between 1990 and 2017, altogether 601 films have been evaluated. Fifty percent of the film entries to the contest dealt with tourism in so-called developing countries. Most of the entries belong to the category "information films and documentaries", followed by contributions to magazines and service as well as "advertising films / spots" and "others".
Until 2017, the TOURA D'OR prizes went to a total of 47 contributions, including the “Special Pedagogy Award” of the Conference of Regional Film services.

If the intention of the TOURA D'OR contest is to bring about a change of awareness and a change of attitude on the part of viewers by showing tourism films, then we will first have to take a step towards motivating and encouraging agents, film makers and producers to follow the TOURA D'OR criteria.

The claim of wanting to be an open-minded country, mustering up the tolerance to let strange things be strange is an objective worth striving for and one that could also impact tourism by getting to know foreign countries and people. The medium film is well suited to give an impetus and impulses for new insights and attitudes.

After nine contests it can be ascertained that the TOURA D'OR is on the right track towards sharpening the awareness for sustainable tourism that will prove its worth in the future as well. Intercultural dialogue can thus be promoted and the film makers are honoured for their creativity and innovation. The cultural diversity displayed in the prize-winning films is a challenge and impulse, an enriching experience and a gain. And with this they finally demonstrate one motivation for venturing on journeys at all.

Karl Mertes, Journalist, West German Broadcasting Corporation