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Tourism Disaster Management Essay

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Updated: Mar 6th, 2019


The involvement of travel and tourism to industrialize and also the developing countries has been so intense and great such that it has become an issue that deserves care and preciseness with no room for possible downturns allowed.

If this industry gets affected in any way, very many industries which are in line with it get consequently affected. Such industries are like hotels, airlines, suppliers, travel organizations and such. Apart from these industries more other industries get affected and at the end of the day affect the economy in general (Waldrop, 1992).

When there happens to be some downturns in the economy, governments are compelled to outline policies that can help to offset the imbalances. At such a circumstance policies should range from various modes like disaster management and mitigation measures (Burton, Kates, & White, 1978).

This paper looks into the problem of disaster management in the industry and a subsequent discussion of a model which can be applied to manage disasters. The paper also goes through the framework for disaster management as developed by Faulkner and discusses the ways and means which have been used in the framework to assist in disaster management.

Crisis management

Crisis management is the process of identifying threats to stakeholders and management of a certain organization. Due to the fact that it is so difficult to foretell potential problems that are bound to happen in future in both the human-based realm and natural causes, it is important that people stay prepared to tackle such problems in case they arise (Lehrman, 1986, 20).

The management must have a ready plan which should come into effect once a disaster happens such that the business does not go down. Crisis management calls for decisions to be implemented within a limited time span. Crisis management is a way in which the company prepares for possible disasters and measures that should be taken if the disaster strikes. This should include preventive and mitigation measures as well as recovery measures after the disaster has been put in control.

International tourism is a major source of revenue to many countries in the world today. When a disaster strikes, it affects a vast part of the economy. This calls for the involved governments to have plans which should quickly act to minimize the effects of the disaster. The biggest obstacle that happens to affect most economies is boosting of the arrival rates to normal rates shortly after the disaster has hit. Disasters have had the profound effects of tarnishing popular destinations to the ground.

Case disaster: September 11th

One of the worst tourism crises that hit the world in the recent years was the September 11th attack to the United States. This was after the twin towers were bombed by terrorists causing thousands of deaths and destruction to property.

An event like the one that occurred during the September 11 attack usually comes along with a very negative and severe defect to the country. Economic losses are felt and government projections are not met. There are increased costs in labor and adjustment fees as people try to get back to normal (Blaikie et al.1994).

Following this terror attack, there was a consequent fall in the tourism industry that made the gross domestic product to be thirty billion dollars than it was expected. At the same time, the government experienced a seven billion dollar budget deficit. There was a very high job loss which was calculated at 380 FTE (full time equivalent).

A number of authors have emphasized the susceptibility of tourist destinations, and as a result tourists, to adversities and some have proposed that, in such kinds of situations, tourists may be more exposed to threat than anybody else (Drabek, 1995, 15).

Murphy and Bayley (1989) propose that the coverage of tourism to common natural disasters is associated with the pleasant appearance of loads of high-risk striking locations, where occurrences such as the consistent and dangerous hurricanes, avalanches and at times volcanic activity are regular.

They are as well at peril from capturing and terrorism since, as (Lehrman, 1986) surveys, tourists have turned out to be soft marks in a period when augmented security gauges have made conventional targets (elected officials, or embassies) less good-looking for the terrorists(P.24).

Furthermore, tourists in their own self are often more susceptible than locals in catastrophe situations for the reason that they are less recognizable with neighboring hazards and the reserves that can be depended upon to avoid danger, they are less sovereign (Burby & Wagner, 1996; Drabek, 1992, 1994).

Insights consequent from the broad analysis of catastrophe and crisis administration strategies in the previous sections have subsequently been combined with the findings obtained from the extra specific assessment of tourism tragedy strategies in this segment to construct a generic framework necessary for tourism disaster management strategies in the following sections.

However, the fundamental underlying principle of the structure hinges on more than a few fundamental main beliefs, which necessitate some prominence at this end for the reason that they summarize the main finale up-and-coming from the lessons and draw attention to significant implications for prospect research.

Faulkner’s five stage Tourism Disaster Management Framework

Pre event

This is a situation where it is possible to take some actions which act to prevent, minimize or mitigate the consequences of disasters that are likely to happen (Fink, 1986). In such a situation there are some key disaster management essentials for response that can be accounted for as outlined below;

  • Establish a disaster management team and appoint the leader for the team
  • Identify organizations that are relevant in the public and private realms
  • Establish frameworks for coordination and systems for communication
  • Develop a strategy for disaster management which should be documented and communicated effectively
  • Educate all the relevant stakeholders on the policies and probable control measures
  • Agree on the necessary protocol

The most important part of the strategies in this phase are assessing the disasters and the likelihood of their occurrence, developing mock scenarios on consequences of real hits and developing contingency plans for the disasters (Faulkner & Russell, 1997, 101).


This is the situation when it is really obvious that the disaster will actually occur. In this situation response essentials include warning the populace which can be through the media for ease of reach, establishment of command centers which will aid in case the disaster starts, and securing of all the required facilities (Faulkner & Russell, 1997, 103).


In this phase of the framework for disaster management, most of the short lived needs of the affected victims have been met. The main activity in place now is to enhance that life gets back to normal for all members of the affected community.

Long term recovery

This is a continuation of the intermediate phase. In this phase, items that would not have been attended to in a haste are taken are of. Analysis of the disaster comes up at this stage where there is also incorporation of some very necessary healing time.

In this phase, the main element of the management strategies for the disaster that is going on is assessment of the impacts and reconstruction. Damaged parts of the infrastructure commence repair. The environment is taken into consideration with the damages which might have taken place being rehabilitated. Victims of the catastrophe are counseled so as to get them fit back into the community.

The destroyed business confidence and also the investor and consumer confidence are reinstated and plans for future investment are put in place. The involved stakeholders review the disaster aversion and management strategies with reference to the immediate previous disaster for purposes of improvement (Booth, 1993).


The normal operation of activities is restored and activities resume to the normal state. A review of the past is done here.

Contingency plans for the disaster

Some of the contingencies include

  • Identification of the possible impacts of the disaster and the likely groups to be affected
  • Assessment of the capability of the current visitors to deal with the disaster
  • Articulation of the contingency plan’s objectives
  • Identification of the necessary actions for mitigation purposes
  • Devising the main strategic actions for each of the steps involved in the framework
  • Set up of a dynamic review which should be based on structural organizational changes, personal experience changes, personnel changes and environmental changes (Arbel & Bargur, 1980, 78).

Effects of September 11

The tourism consequences of the September 11 attack can be moldered into the results of reduced demand for air travel and the related tourism related trips by non residents and also by residents. It is obvious that the declines in demand by United States residents are leading for all kinds of effects, but for the most part for factor modification costs and for FTE works lost in the airline business (Lorenz, 1993).

This reveals the significance of domestic tourism and related travel to the United States economy and the significant effects that decreases in domestic demand can bring about. The effects of the diminutions in demand by non-resident tourists happen to be lower however are spread more extensively across the financial system (Berke, 1998).


Natural and human provoked disasters equally are neither enormously predictable nor preventable (Milo & Yoder, 1991, 40). In addition, while catastrophes are, providentially, relatively exceptional occurrences that are to some degree random, it is also spot on that no target is invulnerable from such trial.

In rejoinder to the near conviction of experiencing a catastrophe of some kind eventually, going to places of interest leads the responsible organizations to devise means for minimizing the smash up of, and speeding up the recovery from, such occurrences through the improvement of disaster managing strategies (Capra, 1996).

By studying precedent events, the retort of those elected and the recuperation measures taken on, and with the benefit of hindsight evaluating the electiveness of these answers, we can expand strategies for dealing with with comparable events in the prospect.

However, the advancement made on this facade has been inadequate because the lead has become short of the theoretical framework required to structure the increasing development of acquaintance about the impact of, and elective retorts to, tourism related disasters.

Within this structure, a difference has been strained between crisis management and disasters. The crises have their sources in development and organization deficiencies, and in this logic they are self-induced (Weiner & Kahn, 1972). In contrast, disasters are activated by events which the injured party has modest control and their impact is, as a result, to some extent inescapable (Turner, 1994, 60).

However, the difference between crises and catastrophes is often to some extent indistinct and it is for this cause it has been recommended that they correspond to opposite extremity of a scale. While many of the disasters are attributed to random innate events, which are ahead of the management of the most superior technology, the impact of such phenomenon can be restrained by proper planning and supervision practices.

Thus, for example, various tourism objectives are comparatively prone to definite types of likely disasters than other counterparts, and in these occurrences action can be emphasized to either keep away from or at least weaken the harmful effects of the occasion (Weiner & Kahn, 1972).

Apart from steering clear of the high-risk locations on the whole, one of the more apparent steps that can be in use is to evaluate the risks a personal destination is likely to meet and build up management tactics to cope with the disaster situations ahead (Cammisa, 1993, 294-295).

A logical tread in extending the exploration described in this article is to use the discussed framework as a foundation for investigative and analyzing authentic cases of tourism related disasters. This will allow the basic model to be experienced and consequently refined, and thus provide further insight into the peculiarity of tourism disasters.


Arbel, A., & Bargur, J. (1980) A planning model for crisis management in the tourism industry: European Journal of Operational Research, 5(2), 77-85.

Berke, P. R. (1998) Reducing natural hazard risks through state growth management: Journal of the American Planning Association, 64(1), 76-87.

Blaikie, P., Cannon, T., Davis, I., & Wisner, B. (1994) At risk: Natural hazards, peoples vulnerability and disasters: London. Routledge.

Booth, S. (1993) Crisis management strategy: Competition and change in modern enterprises. New York. Routledge.

Burton, I., Kates, R. W., & White, G. F. (1978) The Environment as Hazard. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cammisa, J. V. (1993) The Miami experience: Natural and manmade disasters, 1992}93. In Expanding responsibilities: A blueprint for the travel industry. 24th annual conference proceedings of travel and tourism research association. Whistler. BC (pp. 294-295).

Capra, F. (1996) The web of life. London. Harpers Collins Publishers.

Drabek, T. E. (1995) Disaster responses within the tourism industry. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 13(1), 7-23.

Faulkner, B., & Russell, R. (1997) Chaos and complexity in tourism: In search of a new perspective. Pacixc Tourism Review, 1(2), 91-106.

Fink, S. (1986) Crisis management. New York. American Association of Management.

Lehrman, C. K. (1986) When fact and fantasy collide: Crisis management in the travel industry. Public Relations Journal, 42(4), 25-28.

Lorenz, E. (1993) The essence of chaos. Washington. University of Washington Press.

Milo, K. J., & Yoder, S. L. (1991) Recovery from natural disaster: Travel writers and tourist destinations. Journal of Travel Research, 30(1), 36-39.

Turner, D. (1994) Resources for disaster recovery. Security Management, 57-61.

Waldrop, M. (1992) Complexity: The emerging science and the edge of order and chaos. Penguin. Simon and Schuster.

Weiner, A. J., & Kahn, H. (1972) Crisis and arms control. In C. F. Hermann, International crises. Insights from behaviour research (p. 21). New York, NY. The Free Press.

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