History of National Review of Tourist and

Sightseeing Books

The first national review of sightseeing books was organised in 1987 in Białystok by members of Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (“PTTK”) from the city. The competition was organised as a triennial. All sightseeing publications were evaluated without dividing them into categories. The 2nd National Triennial of Tourist and Sightseeing Books also took place in Białystok (in 1990). Both competitions were organised by Maria Maranda, member of the Main Board of PTTK and Director of the Department of Culture of the Białystok Province Office.

After giving up on organising subsequent competitions in Białystok, they were continued by the sightseers’ community in Poznań. The community got the support of provincial authorities, the management of Międzynarodowe Targi Poznańskie (Poznań International Fair) and of the Main Board of PTTK. The 3rd National Triennial of Tourist and Sightseeing Books was organised in 1994 by the Greater Poland Club of Sightseeing Journalists, with Witold Gostyński, the then President of the Club, as the competition’s commissioner. The Main Board of PTTK together with its Commission of Sightseeing continued their patronage of the event. The competition was held as part of “Tour-Salon” in Poznań (now: TOUR SALON Tourist Regions and Products Fair) while Poznań International Fair provided excellent conditions and support for the event. It was then when Programme Board was established, which set out the general rules of competition organisation still applicable today. In the Poznań edition of the competition, for the first time publications were evaluated in five categories: albums, guidebooks, maps, folders, and monographies and other sightseeing studies. The post-competition exhibition during the “Tour-Salon” enjoyed considerable interest of the audience, whereas the meeting of publishers and authors, which accompanied the grant of the awards, provided an opportunity to exchange experiences. Traditionally, the honorary diplomas of the Management Board of Poznań International Fair and Main Board of PTTK (and since 2002 also of the Marshal or Greater Poland Province) had become awards in the competition.

The considerable interest in the first Poznań-based competition, as proven by the high number of submitted publications (153), resulted in the decision to organise it annually in the form of the National Review of Tourist and Sightseeing Books. In 1994, the Greater Poland Club of Sightseeing Journalists, as co-organiser of the Review, was granted the prestigious Honorary Snowdrop Award in the first edition of the competition for the most interesting tourist initiatives in Poland since, as said in the jury’s verdict, “the Triennial of Sightseeing and Tourist Books was resumed with the support of Commission of Sightseeing of the Main Board of PTTK by promoting tourist publications in this form and with considerable help from the Management of Poznań International Fair”.

The next competition (4th Review) was organised in 1995, whereas in 2013 the 22nd National Review of Tourist and Sightseeing Books took place in Poznań. In 2013 the main tasks related to organising the event were taken over from the Greater Poland Club of Sightseeing Journalists by the Central Library of PTTK in cooperation with Poznań International Fair, Marshal’s Office of Greater Poland Province, and other units of the PTTK, i.e. Commission of Sightseeing of the Main Board of PTTK, PTTK’s Poznań Branch, and Greater Poland Club of Sightseeing Journalists.

In addition to nationwide publishers, such as “Sport i Turystyka – Muza”, Wydawnictwo PTTK “Kraj”, PPWK, “Arkady”, Bosz, or PWN, also regional publishing houses took part in the Reviews, for example Wydawnictwo Miejskie “Posnania”, Regional Public Library in Poznań, “Rewasz” from Pruszków, “Eko-Graf” and “Sudety” from Wrocław, “BiK” from Piła, “Witański” from Katowice, or “Zora” from Widzew. The organisers were particularly happy with the participation of non-professional publishing houses from municipalities and counties as well as books published by social organisations such as Association of Skoczów Enthusiasts, Association of Enthusiasts of Dąbrowski’s Mazurka Tradition, or Association of Local Action Group of Zgłowiączka Basin. The post-competition catalogues have been issued since 1996, which, in addition to documenting the course of the Review, constitute an interesting contribution to analysing the development of the sightseeing book market. In 2010 the Commission of Sightseeing of the Main Board of PTTK launched the website www.przegladksiazki.pttk.pl, which features complete information on the course of the Reviews as well as a comprehensive photo gallery.

The Review’s jury has included prominent experts, i.e. cartographers, sightseers, book distributors, and linguists, with chairmen such as prof. Krzysztof Migoń (University of Wrocław), prof. Andrzej Tomczak (the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń), prof. Janusz Zdebski (University of Physical Education in Krakow, President of the Main Board of PTTK), or prof. Krzysztof Mazurski (University of Wrocław). In the years 2009-2012 the jury was chaired by cartographer, PhD, Wiesław Ostrowski (University of Warsaw). In previous years, the Review’s commissioners included (chronologically): Witold Gostyński, Elżbieta Hurnik, Magdalena Anders, Anna Zatorska, Aleksandra Warczyńska, and Maria Janowicz.

In twenty editions of the Review (1994-2013) 1056 publishers took part, which submitted in total 2314 sightseeing publications. Some of the publishers, e.g.: Eko-Graf, Oficyna Wydawnicza “Rewasz”, PPWK, Sport i Turystyka – Muza, Bosz, Oficyna Wydawnicza “Sudety”, Arkady, Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania, Wydawnictwo PTTK “Kraj” and Wydawnictwo WBPiCAK have participated in the Review many times and have been multiple winners.

Although it is the publishers that are awarded in the Review, some authors whose names are frequently among the winners are also worth noting: Janusz Czerwiński, author of a publication about Lower Silesia; Włodzimierz Łęcki from Poznań, awarded already in the first Review in Białystok; Piotr Maluśkiewicz, author of many guidebooks and albums about Greater Poland; Maria and Przemysław Pilch from Warsaw; or excellent photographers Adam Bujak and Edward Hartwig.

The Reviews have become well-known among publishers and tourist organisations. They are also an integral element of the TOUR SALON Tourist Regions and Products Fair in Poznań. The fact of receiving an award in the Review is appreciated by publishers, who often place the information on special book jackets or in subsequent editions of the publication.

Witold Gostyński, Poznań, lipiec 2014 r.