Tourism in Natural Disaster Affected Regions
In most nations, tourism is an important part of the economy. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), international travels are bound to increase from 2004 to 2020. Nevertheless, natural disasters affect tourism activities that include the Boxing Day events of 2004 (Zhang, 2005) and the recent Cyclone Nargis devastation in Burma. Tourists are vulnerable to various natural disasters because they are attracted to exotic regions where their risk is high including the avalanches and hurricanes (Terry and Goff, 2012).
As such, tourism activities have a risky nature and the affected areas have led to a debate that attempts to determine whether tourism activities ought to be encouraged in such places. Tourism activities in the regions that are affected by natural disasters are supported by this essay as long as the application of appropriate precautions is done to avert danger that may affect human life as well as to ensure that all affected regions benefit from these activities.
Most regions that natural disasters affect depend on income that comes from tourism activities in financing their recovery efforts. Actually, reports by Tourism Concern (2005) indicate that relief efforts of the tourist agencies and individual tourists have benefited the nations that tsunamis have affected in the past. Following the occurrence of such disasters, disaster concepts in the tourism industry have also been developed. These facilitate the efforts that are aimed at increasing comprehension of the natural disasters. The International Ecotourism Society (2013) indicates that most photographers were tourists and images that were used in analyzing disasters came from tourists.
According to Hannum, Park and Butler (2010), tourism ought to continue since the new leisure consumers’ generation will emerge because the South East Asia’s working population is bound to more than triple by 2050. Another factor that contributes to optimism regarding the increase in the tourism activities is economic development that has not been precedent. Most residents of the areas that have faced destructive effects that natural disasters pose are enduring poverty and economic hardships. Some tourists take advantage of this to lure such residents into prostitution of underage individuals. Rigg, Grundy-Warr, Law and Tan-Mullins (2008, pp. 137-154) note that authorities of the countries that the natural disasters affect find improving tourism in the areas that are prone to such disasters beneficial because it enables the local people to rebuild lives after the disasters.
According to Tarlow (2005), the visits of tourists can be transformed to life-changing experiences by improving the lives of local people who are facing the effects of the disasters. Although disease levels results from increased prostitution which indicates social morals’ and ethics’ erosion, most sex workers get money that they use to support families. Bond and Falk (2013) for instance note that recruitment of sex workers occur among rural families. Their parents are paid lump sum amounts that they use to ensure family subsistence with their meager earnings.
The negative effect of this is that this practice has led to increased prostitution and sex tourism. There has been intensification of this practice to a level where children of countries that have high natural disasters incidences including Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand have become more vulnerable to dealers and tourists who need cheap sex trade and labor. Failure by the media to report increasing women and children vulnerability to domestic and international trafficking as well as sex trade worsened the situation. Morse (2005) contends that most reports by the media comprised of a generalized condemnation of sex tourism and/or child trafficking in areas affected by natural disasters. These reports did not provide specific information regarding the exact dynamics of child prostitution and trafficking in these areas.
In the areas that natural disasters occur, tourism activities lead to spreading of HIV/AIDS. Sex tourism can make families that earn low income financially stable. However, the formed contract through payments that are made to a family binds a sex worker to a job and the obligation that the worker has for the family goes beyond negative feelings towards their job. The process of recovering from a natural disaster has also been complicated by tourism in some cases (The International Ecotourism Society, 2013). For example, hastening tourism development’s investment following the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean in 2004 hampered smooth transition of the local people to normal life because they were not prepared (Tourism Concern, 2005).
Tourism ought to be encouraged within the regions that natural disasters affect as long as appropriate precautions are taken to minimize property destruction as well as to avert threat that human life faces. The governments of most regions that are prone to disasters are unable to deal with the adverse effects that tourism faces from these disasters due to pressure from international financiers as well as unbalanced economic development pace which forces them to attract foreign investors regardless of the cost. Countries that face natural disasters are affected the most because these natural forces are destructive in nature and this hampers development initiatives. Complicity of legal business owners such as brothel owners and hoteliers is taken advantage of by tourists who use their businesses to facilitate sex trade activities.
There are also situations where this vice has been supported by the governments in the past. For instance, according to Hechler (1995), before preventive policies were adopted, 1987 was the tourism year that the Thailand’s Tourism Authority named using the slogan, “The one fruit of Thailand more delicious than durian-its young women.” Durian is a fruit that is native to Thailand. Due to such traditions, it is difficult for the strategies adopted currently to eliminate sex tourism.
Structures of governance in places that are prone to natural disasters ought to have necessary measures in place in order to deal with increased prostitution. Public education that teaches the dangers that sexual malpractices have as well as the alternative ways of using tourism for economic gains can be used to curb this prostitution. Children registration that provides the list of the children who no longer live with families can be used in curbing child trafficking (CNN, 2005; UNICEF, 2005). Child trafficking incidences that result from tourism can also be decreased through the provision of media reports about them to create awareness regarding these inhumane acts at international forums.
Public attention’s effectiveness can internationally be proven through the adoption of preventive actions by Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India governments. This was after they were accused by the State’s Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S department in 2004 of failing to comply with standards of Trafficking Victims Act (TVPA), 2002. According to Morse (2005), the target of this Act is to raise awareness about child trafficking globally by reducing relations with nations that do not take actions that are aimed at eliminating this challenge. Affected regions ought to apply sufficient technologies that can detect natural disasters as well as minimize the destructive effects of such disasters.
It is important to encourage tourism in nations that are prone to natural disasters. According to this discussion, it is apparent that tourism activities have benefits that supersede their negative ones. Tourism plays a vital role in the rehabilitation and restoration of normalcy in the areas that are prone to disasters. My opinion is that it is important to encourage tourism in the disaster prone areas that include South East Asia although more precautions ought to be taken in order to protect the local people and tourists from the effects of these disasters which are naturally destructive. Human rights should be flout or compromised by their activities.
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