Symposium Sustainability and Tourism – Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Sustainability is a very controversial topic in the context of tourism. While it is undisputed that tourists often have a highly negative impact on the local environment and nature through their travels and their stay, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO, a specialised agency of the UN) counters this with many positive effects of tourism on sustainability in its toolkit Achieving the sustainable development goals through tourism (2023). In the foreword, Takao Shimokawa writes that tourism has become an indispensable part of our lives and that it has a significant impact on the trade and economy of the countries concerned (especially developing and emerging countries), which also has a positive effect on sustainable development. In the Sustainable Tourism for Development Guidebook (2013), the UNWTO emphasises that this premise is widely recognised at international level: "many international bodies, conventions and communications have formally recognised the importance of the sector as a driver of sustainable development."
In order to shed more light on this controversy, the symposium aims to contrast opportunities/best practices with critical views/problematic practices and to discuss potentials as well as challenges of current tourism practices through an interdisciplinary, international and multi-perspective approach. 

Program - 14 May 2024 - Click on the titles for abstracts and speaker bios

9:00-9:05 | Welcome (Marie-Louise Brunner)

Marie-Louise Brunner is Tandem-Professor for Sustainability Communication at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld of Trier University of Applied Sciences where she is also on the board of directors of the InDi - Institute for International and Digital Communication. As Project Leader for Sustainability Communication at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, she also works in an applied NGO context to round off the tandem-professorship.
After having completed her B.A. and M.A. in English (with a focus on Linguistics and Culture Studies) and Intercultural Communication, she completed her PhD with distinction at Saarland University, Germany, on the topic "Understanding Intercultural Communication: Negotiating Meaning and Identities in English as a Lingua Franca Skype Conversations."
Her research interests include sustainability communication, social media communication and corporate identity, intercultural (business) communication, and language and food. Her research is focused on the areas of corpus-based multimodal discourse analysis, negotiation of identity, communication strategies and optimization, and intercultural communication. 

9:05-9:50 | Under SCRUTINY – Exploring Multimodal Sustainability Discourses in Norwegian Cruise Tourism (Susanne Mohr, Constanze Ackermann-Boström, Tatjana Schnellinger, Marie-Louise Brunner)

Abstract

Tourism plays an important economic role in the Nordic countries. Especially cruise tourism along the Norwegian coastline has a long-standing tradition among tourists to and in Scandinavia and is the fastest growing tourism sector worldwide (Petrick & Durko 2016). Established in the 19th century to transport goods along the coast, the Norwegian company “Hurtigruten” maintains daily traffic transporting cargo and passengers along the coast. Previous research by Ackermann-Bostroem & Mohr (2023) identified central themes emerging in multimodal discourses on the Hurtigruten cruises, such as contrasting urban life and nature, and closely relating to sustainability as a major topic. Sustainability also emerged in online and offline linguistic landscapes in connection to Hurtigruten. In our talk, we will present the SCRUTINY project which studies multimodal sustainable discourses in Norwegian cruise tourism drawing upon linguistic ethnography in motion. We will provide a brief background on the project, present the collected data, discuss some preliminary results, and outline possible future directions of research in the project. 

Susanne Mohr is Professor of English Sociolinguistics at the Department of Language and Literature of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She holds a postdoctoral degree in English and general linguistics from the University of Bonn and a PhD in general linguistics from the University of Cologne. Since 2018, she has been awarded several grants and fellowships to research linguistic repertoires, language choices and the interface of formal and informal language learning in physical and digital tourist spaces in Zanzibar and Norway. Her central research interests are multilingualism, language contact, multimodality, discursive place-making and research methodologies. She has published widely on these topics, for instance in the Journal of Pragmatics, Sociolinguistic Studies, World Englishes, and in a recently edited volume Learning Languages, Being Social (2024, De Gruyter) together with Lindsay Ferrara.

Constanze Ackermann-Böstrom is an associate professor of education with a focus on multilingualism at Uppsala University, Sweden. She holds a PhD in German Studies (Uppsala University, 2018). Her research interests include multilingualism, minoritised languages, language revitalization and identity. She’s the author of the monograph “Gelebte Mehrsprachigkeit im Plattenbau” (Uppsala University Publications 2018). She has also published the monograph “Meänkieli in Stockholm” (Stockholmia 2022) and was editor of the special issue “Youth perspectives on language revitalization” (Multiethnica 41, 2021). Ackermann-Boström is one of the organisers of the Nordic workshop series on “Linguistics and Sustainabilty”. 

Tatjana Schnellinger is a PhD candidate in Language and Linguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. She holds a BA and MA in English Studies as well as African Studies and Egyptology from the University of Cologne. Her main research interests concern anthropological linguistics, sociolinguistics, multilingualism, gesture studies, multimodality, tourism discourses, language contact and creole studies. Her doctoral research explores gesture and multilingualism in Suriname from a multimodal perspective. With regards to tourism research, she is particularly interested in sustainable research methods that challenge and decolonise the field of linguistics.

Marie-Louise Brunner is Tandem-Professor for Sustainability Communication at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld of Trier University of Applied Sciences where she is also on the board of directors of the InDi - Institute for International and Digital Communication. As Project Leader for Sustainability Communication at the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, she also works in an applied NGO context in the second half of the tandem-professorship.
After having completed her B.A. and M.A. in English (with a focus on Linguistics and Culture Studies) and Intercultural Communication, she completed her PhD with distinction at Saarland University, Germany, on the topic "Understanding Intercultural Communication: Negotiating Meaning and Identities in English as a Lingua Franca Skype Conversations." Her research interests include sustainability communication, social media communication and corporate identity, intercultural (business) communication, and language and food. Her research is focused on the areas of corpus-based multimodal discourse analysis, negotiation of identity, communication strategies and optimization, and intercultural communication. 

9:50-10:35 | Upcycling as a branding strategy within the global tourism discourse in Unguja, Zanzibar (Cassandra Gerber)

Abstract

The growth of the tourism sector in Unguja, Zanzibar, has led to an increase in waste generation, and artisans, NGOs, and tourism workers have become involved in the creative reuse and recycling of waste materials. In this way, waste is transformed into souvenirs that are marketed in unique ways, promising a "waste-free" and "sustainable" tourism experience. In my presentation, I will situate these marketing strategies within the broader global tourism discourse around Zanzibar by examining a local NGO's promotion of upcycled products. For that, I’ll use data from digital space as well as from fieldwork I did in the past. My particular focus is on the recontextualization of cultural iconographies within and around these promoted products, which are prominent in both the digital and non-digital semiotic landscape of tourism in Zanzibar.

Cassandra Gerber explores semiotic landscapes critically through her doctoral research on souvenir T-shirts in tourist destinations such as Zanzibar, Mallorca, and Sylt. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for African and Egyptian Studies at the University of Cologne. Her academic interests include Social Semiotics, Sociolinguistics, Post- and Decolonial Linguistics, and Mobile as well as Intercultural Communication.

Coffee Break & Networking

Coffee Break & Networking -

11:00-11:45 | Sustainable Tourism 4 the Region – presentation of and results from an international student project (Germany, Israel, Croatia) in cooperation with the National Park Hunsrück-Hochwald (Milena Valeva & Kathrin Nitschmann)

Abstract

Within this project students at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld and at partner universities (Ben-Gurion-University of the Negev, Israel and University of Dubrovnik, Croatia) developed concepts for sustainable regional tourism. The mission: facing real challenges (reported by stakeholders from the region of the National Park region Hunsrück-Hochwald) and overcoming them through interpretation and implementation of the following SDGs under the umbrella theme of Sustainable Tourism in internationally mixed teams:
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 4: Quality education
SDG 15: Life on land
SDG 12: Sustainable consumption & production
SDG 10: reduced inequalities
Qualitative guided interviews with the participating students were conducted to explore the success of the initiative. Long-term results for the region – next to educational performance - can also be expected in the form of a systematically elaborated multitude of strategic impulses and concepts in the field of sustainable tourism for the region.
From a legal point of view the project included an exploration of the relation between Human Rights, SDGs and sustainable development focusing on the special legal frameworks of National Parcs in Germany and its compatibility with tourism. Starting from a general global perspective and leading to a special case study the presentation shows the complexity of legal constructions of rules and exceptions that must be measured against real life conditions and needs. 

Milena Valeva is Professor of Nonprofit Management and Sustainable Regional Development at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld, Trier University of Applied Sciences. Her research interests also include social business & social innovation, socio-cultural dimension of sustainability, business ethics, research integrity, AI ethics. She completed her Joint-PhD-Thesis at the International Graduate School Zittau (TU Dresden) and at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) in the field of ethical banking & business ethics. She is also a co-founder and board member of NGO Odyssey, a non-profit organization for regionally focused social development in Bulgaria.

Kathrin Nitschmann is Professor of Administrative Law at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld, Trier University of Applied Sciences. Her research interests include amongst others the relation of law and sustainable development, resource protection law and especially the socio-legal dimension of sustainability. Her lecturing activities include talks on current topics in France/Spain/Latin America. Until 2012, she practiced as a lawyer specialized in administrative law.

11:45-12:30 | Sustainable Tourism in Saarland – a practical perspective (Erik Hoffmann & Caroline Schuhmacher)

Abstract

The Saarland Tourist Board will be presenting its strategic approach to the implementation of sustainability in the destination. The TourCert certification system and the TZS partner network will be explained in detail, as well as specific sustainability measures that have been implemented in the past.  A special focus will then be given to the Interreg North-West Europe project MONA 'MOdal shift, routing and nudging solutions in NAture areas for sustainable tourism', which started in 2023 with 11 partners from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands and aims to promote sustainable tourism in and around nature areas.

Erik Hoffmann is a professional with a Bachelor of Arts in Historical Cultural Studies from the University of Saarland. With this academic foundation and over five years of experience at the Tourismus Zentrale Saarland GmbH (Saarland Tourism Board), Erik specialised in public relations and managed the organisation’s communications. He also contributed towards the Interreg-VA programme, focusing on digital tourism marketing for the Greater Region.  In his current role as Theme and Project Manager for Sustainability, Erik channels his expertise into developing initiatives that promote responsible tourism practices in Saarland, demonstrating his commitment to the region's tourism industry and environmental awareness.

Caroline Schuhmacher holds a BA in International Tourism Management from the HTW Saar in Germany and an MSc in International Hotel and Tourism Management from Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK. She submitted her PhD thesis to Oxford Brookes Business School in February 2024, investigating governance systems for tourist-accessible animal sanctuaries in emerging economies and their impact on animal welfare and conservation. During her studies, she gained research and work experience in several African countries, including Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. From 2021 to 2023 she worked as a researcher and tourism consultant for the UK-based consultancy Tomorrow's Tourism. Since July 2023 she has been working as a project manager for the Interreg North-West Europe MONA project at Tourismus Zentrale Saarland GmbH (Saarland Tourism Board).

Lunch Break & Networking

Lunch Break & Networking -

    14:00-14:45 | Ecotourism in Hawai’i (Gavin Lamb)

    Abstract

    Green sea turtles and monk seals in Hawai‘i have steadily rebounded from the brink of extinction since the 1970s when they were first listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Today, as both protected species and increasingly popular tourist attractions, the Hawaiian green sea turtle and Hawaiian monk seal find themselves at the nexus of a host of tourism and conservation activities that work to organize human interaction with these animals in both collaborative and conflicting ways. Drawing on an ethnographic discourse analysis of these human-wildlife interactions, this talk explores (un)sustainable tourism as an issue of temporal (un)coordination. Through a nexus analysis of the various human and nonhuman temporalities shaping this multispecies contact zone, I explore possibilities for sustainable wildlife tourism as a question of developing shared capacities for ‘timely action,’ especially as climate change threatens to exacerbate temporal mismatches across institutions, communities and environments. 

    Gavin Lamb is Associate Professor in the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics and Senior Researcher at The Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) in Bergen, Norway. His research draws on ecolinguistics, nexus analysis and multispecies ethnography to examine the sociolinguistics of professional and intercultural communication in conservation and tourism settings. His research has been published in journals such as Applied Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Review as well as recent edited volumes including Intercultural Communication in Tourism: Critical Perspectives, and Communicating Endangered Species: Extinction, News and Public Policy. His forthcoming book, Multispecies Discourse Analysis: The Nexus of Discourse and Practice in Sea Turtle Tourism and Conservation, will be published by Bloomsbury in May 2024.

    14:45-15:30 | Picturing the ‘pristine’: imagery and (un)sustainability in nature tourism (Sean Smith)

    Abstract

    Tourists and tourism service providers alike frequently depict landscapes according to the principles of ‘pristine nature’, a global visual register in which the environment is seen without human impact. Although such images are regularly used to market sustainability in tourism and beyond, it has rarely been asked if visualizations of pristine nature actually support sustainability. Drawing upon fieldwork and Instagram posts made in Oman, where nature tourism has recently become established, this talk identifies ‘untouched nature’ and the ‘self-in-nature’ as two globally prominent genres through which nature is depicted as pristine, while a third and more context-bound genre – ‘anti-litter’ – illustrates how nature tourists attempt to address an environmental problem. An historicization and comparison of each genre reveals that pristine nature is often at odds with sustainability, yet the image-making practices of nature tourists in Oman may suggest the grounds from which a semiotics of sustainability can emerge. 

    Dr. Sean P. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Department of Culture Studies at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. Much of his research has focused on the relationship between social media and tourism, and how colonial histories shape today’s ideologies and visual cultures of travel. His work has been published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Language in Society, and Postcolonial Studies among others. Currently, he is working on a book about how tourism and social media intersect with concepts of nature in Oman.

    Coffee Break & Networking

    Coffee Break & Networking -

    16:00-16:30 | General discussion and new project possibilities (Discussant: Stefan Diemer)

    Stefan Diemer is professor of international communication and digital business at Trier University of Applied Sciences and associate professor of linguistics at Saarland University, Germany, and TU Berlin. His research interests include discourse analysis, digital communication, social media language, business communication, ELF, and food discourse.

    16:30-17:30 | Optional Methods Workshop: Dealing with multimodal data – Issues, tools, and first insights from the SCRUTINY project (Giuanna Caviezel) | Open discussion

    Abstract

    The SCRUTINY project is, inter alia, based on ethnographic data from semiotic landscapes on a Hurtigruten ship (Mohr & Ackermann-Boström 2023), including approximately 500 pictures. To analyse the data using a multimodal discourse analytic framework (Kress & Van Leeuwen 1996), we designed a taxonomy partly based on the annotation mode ‘taxonomies for projects’ (University of Luxembourg). The taxonomy was created in conformity with our own current – as well as potential future – research interests and continuously adapted during the coding process. We also explored different annotation tools, which would allow us to work collaboratively on the semiotic landscape data. 
    In this workshop session, we will start by providing some brief insights into the collaborative analyzing process and the various challenges and issues on our journey to establishing a coding procedure for the SCRUTINY project, before opening the floor for discussion with all participants to exchange ideas on how to deal with such typically highly multimodal datasets in tourism research. 

    Giuanna Caviezel holds a Bachelor of Arts in multilingual communication from the University of Geneva (with two semesters abroad at the University of Aix-Marseille and the University of Manchester) and a Master of Arts in sociolinguistics from the University of Bern. She taught Romansh sociolinguistics at the University of Zurich and worked at the Swiss Federal Chancellery as the official Romansh translator of the Confederation. She is currently on a one-year sabbatical in Norway, working as a research assistant at the University of Trondheim and the University of Tromsø, before moving back to Switzerland to start her PhD at the University of Zurich. 

    Organizational Matters

    Time:
    14 May 2024 | 9.00-17.30h CEST

    Place:
    The event will take place on site at the Environment Campus Birkenfeld (room tbd) and online via Zoom.

    Deadline for registration:
    7 May 2024

    Language:
    The event will take place in English.

    Costs:
    Participation on site and online is free of charge. Spaces on site are limited.

    Funded by

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