Disaster tourism

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Disaster tourism at Mount Merapi, after the 2010 eruptions

Disaster tourism is the act of traveling to a disaster area as a matter of curiosity.

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

Disaster tourism took hold in the Greater New Orleans Area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There are now guided bus tours to neighborhoods that were severely damaged and/or totally destroyed by the flooding.

Some local residents have criticized these tours as unethical, because the tour companies are profiting from the misery of their communities and families. The Army Corps of Engineers has noted that traffic from tour buses and other tourist vehicles have interfered with the movement of trucks and other cleanup equipment on single-lane residential roads. Furthermore, during the first six months after the storm, most of these neighborhoods lacked electricity, phone access, street signs, or access to emergency medical or police assistance. Simply traveling to these neighborhoods was hazardous. For these reasons, organized disaster tours are now banned from two of the most severely damaged areas in the city, the Lower 9th and St. Bernard Parish which is 1.4 miles east of the Industrial Canal.

On the other hand, such communities as Gentilly and Lakeview, along the 17th Street Canal, have welcomed organized tour groups as a means to publicize the scale of the destruction and attract more aid to the city. Much of the recovery effort in the New Orleans relies on out-of-state volunteers and donations. Numerous non-profit organization, including Habitat for Humanity International and Catholic Charities, have converged on the city to gut and rebuild homes. There is also a movement by local residents to bring congressmen and other national leaders to the city and view the damage in person, since recovery efforts have been hampered by the failure of many homeowners and businesses to receive claims from their insurance providers.

2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull[edit]

Eyjafjallajökull, on Iceland, began erupting on 20 March 2010.[1][2] At this time, about 500 farmers and their families from the areas of Fljótshlíð, Eyjafjöll, and Landeyjar were evacuated overnight, but allowed to return to their farms and homes after Civil Protection Department risk assessment. On 14 April 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted for the second time, requiring 800 people to be evacuated.[3]

Disaster tourism quickly sprang up in the wake of the first eruption, with tour companies offering trips to see the volcano.[4] However, the ash cloud from the second eruption disrupted air traffic over Great Britain and most of northern and western Europe, making it difficult to travel to Iceland even though Iceland's airspace itself remained open throughout.[3][5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eldgosið á Fimmvörðuhálsi". 
  2. ^ Volcano Erupts Under Eyjafjallajökull Reykjavík Grapevine, March 21, 2010
  3. ^ a b "Iceland's volcanic ash halts flights in northern Europe". BBC News. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Tom Robbins. "Iceland's erupting volcano | Travel". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2010/apr/03/iceland-erupting-volcano-hyjafjallajoekull. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  5. ^ "Cancellations due to volcanic ash in the air". Norwegian Air Shuttle. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Iceland Volcano Spewing Ash Chokes Europe Air Travel". San Francisco Chronicle. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010.