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Is tourism to regions that were hit several months ago by natural disasters (for example, the north-eastern part of Honshu, Japan) good for the local economy, and for the people of that area?

Just to clarify, I'd be visiting normal tourist destinations in the region, not visiting specific sites of devastation.

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A difficult question to tag! Moderators do you have any ideas for tags which would characterise this question, have wider use beyond just this one, and not be a meta tag? –  hippietrail Dec 30 '11 at 3:49
    
@hippietrail: Are you able to see the wiki I proposed for the tourism-impacts tag? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 30 '11 at 3:55
    
The wiki seems to be improved. I'd just like to see the mods have a think about it too though, since they're the (unpaid) professionals (-: –  hippietrail Dec 30 '11 at 4:04
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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Well, for example, in Christchurch, New Zealand, where we've had several large earthquakes and nearly 10,000 aftershocks since September 2010, the city has been altered irreparably. Many buildings have been torn down.

We were expecting a windfall with the Rugby World Cup, but all the Christchurch games were cancelled, as were a lot of tourist visits as a result.

While the CBD still has sections closed off, many of the tourist destinations in the region (Lyttleton, Akaroa, the Antarctic Center, Hagley Park, the Museum, Art Gallery, Mt Hutt Ski Field, Kaikoura and more) are still open or have reopened, and would LOVE tourists to come back in droves!

As you point out, visiting the sites of devastation is not the goal, and indeed in the dire parts of Christchurch they ask people not to come and rubber-neck as the vibrations from cars make some damaged houses shudder, for example. However, even those people would be happy to hear tourists are coming back to the city and region - it's a beautiful part of the world.

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Absolutely yes. Rebuilding costs money, and that can't all come from donations (and shouldn't, especially in the long run), so it has to come from regular economic activites, of which tourism is one, often a very important one, especially as it can be conducted with limited capital.

I honestly cannot think of any reason why visiting a disaster-struck region as a tourist could be bad for that region once it's stabilized.

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Disaster tourism, i.e. expressly visiting an area hit by disaster in order to see the devastation can be disruptive and distasteful. Worse, it can be dangerous, and nothing makes the rescue workers' day like a rubbernecking tourist who has to be pulled out of the rubble.

However, there are some places where touring affected areas is apparently done with a modicum of decency.

Ishinomaki 2.0 is a web site about the reconstruction of Ishinomaki, Miyagi, and one thing mentioned is

[2.0 EXCURSION]

2.0 EXCURSION is a program that introduces the on-going rebuilding process of Ishinomaki . Please see and feel what the actual rebuilding process is, by taking a city tour of Ishiomaki with the member of Ishinomaki 2.0. The shopping alleys with development, the panorama view from the top of the Hiyoriyama maoutain, and the coastal area completely swept away by Tsunami. Whatever vision you have is all reality of today’s Ishinomaki.

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