Tourism Review Online Magazine - Natural Disasters: Real Force Majeure for Tourism

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Natural Disasters: real Force Majeure For tourisM

                                Natural disasters – floods,
                                rains, earthquakes, volcano
                                eruptions – impact immensely
                                the tourism industry of the
                                affected destinations. Learn
                                about the valtellina Flood, tsu-
                                nami, machu Picchu’s troubles
                                with rain as well as the volca-
                                noes in Iceland.
                                                    ETHICAL   Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

         tHE vAltEllinA flood: dEstroying
             roAds, rAils And tourism
Valtellina is the common name used for the
Alpine province of Sondrio, in Northern Italy.
This long valley became very famous in the
summer of 1987, when a huge flood hit the
whole area. An incredibly warm summer
caused the glaciers to release a great quantity
of water, which summed up to exceptionally
heavy storms (the rainfall of two months fell in
just three days).
As a result, the rivers broke the banks, sub-
merging villages and destroying roads and
rails. There were fifty-three casualties and
damages for an estimated 2 billion euro. Some
landslides occurred too – the biggest one bur-
ied Sant'Antonio morignone and three other
villages just south from Bormio under forty-
million cubic metres (more than 1.4 billion
cubic feet) of rocks and earth, virtually cutting
off the upper part of the valley.

not All Publicity is good Publicity...
  Needless to say, this disaster attracted the
attention of media. The coverage didn't repre-
sent very good advertising though. of course,
the zone wasn't in a “business-as-usual” situ-
ation, but virtually all the tourist areas were
intact, albeit more difficult to reach. This was
the case of resorts like madesimo and val-
malenco, whereas Bormio and Livigno and the
whole Upper valtellina, albeit unharmed, were

Januar y, 2011                                      — 26 —
                                                                     ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

                                                                                                         ated, with, among other things, a 50% reim-
                                                                                                         bursement of the weekly lift pass in the most
                                                                                                         affected towns (30% for the other ones).

                                                                                                          convincing tourists And sKEPtics
                                                                                                            A8-page insert was included in the most
                                                                                                         important magazines (no less than 6 million
                                                                                                         copies over 4 weeks). Heavy discounts on nor-
                                                                                                         mal advertising fees were obtained, mainly
                                                                                                         through personal contacts. Therefore an invest-
                                                                                                         ment of 2 million euro created a campaign
                                                                                                         with a much higher value (7-9 million euro,
                                                                                                         say some estimates). Attention by the political
                                                                                                         world was strong, with many authorities visit-
                                                                                                         ing the area and some of them actually making
                                                                                                         last minute decisions to spend their summer
                                                                                                         holidays in Upper valtellina just after the flood.
isolated from the rest of Italy (but could be       area ravaged by the landslide, which opened          Support also came from Standa, a famous
reached through Switzerland). many reports          on 21st December that year), whereas the             chain of department stores which organized
on this disaster were 'spiced up' and impre-        local tourist bodies decided to launch a heavy       special contests among its customers.
cise, to say the least – risking to ruin the good   advertising campaign on newspapers and Tv               Not everybody, though, believed in the suc-
publicity linked to the 1985 Fis Ski World Cup      channels – mostly in Italy and Germany – with        cess of these measures – for example, the
hosted in Bormio.                                   the agreement of the regional and national           lift owner in Bormio didn't want to open that
                                                    authorities.                                         winter. He was convinced through bank guar-
  good PricEs AgAinst PrEjudicE                                                                          antees signed by local operators who agreed
                                                      “Forza valtellina” (“Go valtellina”) was the       to cover any loss which might occur. Luckily for
  The local tourist office reacted quickly. After   campaign's slogan. It was one of the first exam-     them, they didn't have to pay anything, as the
a very short time, two information points were      ples of an image rescue campaign for a resort,       season went so well, with an actual increase in
set up on the road leading to the valley, in        funded by an emergency measure just weeks            the lift passes sold!
order to try and save the summer season by          after the disaster occurred.                            The authorities seized all possible occasions
giving honest, up-to-date information on the          The main lever used to save tourism was rep-       to promote the province, even in the following
current situation and on alternative routes. A      resented by discounts on services (lift pass,        years. Among the many initiatives, a 1,000 sq.
second wave of bad weather, though, compro-         thermal spas and shops). Accommodation               m. pavilion during the 1988 trade fair in milan
mised this objective, and put the winter sea-       prices were left untouched, as it was believed       was open. Another way to have positive media
son in danger.                                      that lowering them would decrease the per-           coverage came from sport events, such as the
  Works started for the number-one priority (a      ceived value of the resorts, with a long-term        Fis Ski World Cup races or the Giro d'Italia bicy-
road link with the Upper valtellina through the     negative effect. The “valtellina Card” was cre-      cle competition.

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                 ETHICAL   Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m
                                                        tHE lEgAcy AftEr 23 yEArs
                                                    Nearly all traces of the flood have now dis-
                                                  appeared – except for the scar left by the big
                                                  landslide, which is still visible. The road sys-
                                                  tem is now more comfortable, thanks also to
                                                  big investments by the central government
                                                  through a special act of law, the 1990 “Legge
                                                  valtellina”. more than 1.2 billion euro financed
                                                  roads, infrastructure and other projects.
                                                    All in all, the name of valtellina is now bet-
                                                  ter known than it used to be before, whereas
                                                  the 1987 disaster is almost forgotten – and the
                                                  sense of unity among tourist operators which
                                                  characterized the months after the flood has
                                                  also somewhat faded.

                                                  The author wishes to thank Gianni Confortola,
                                                  Mario Cotelli and Credito Valtellinese for the pre-
                                                  cious information provided.
                                                  By Adriano Pedrana
                                                  Adriano Pedrana is, among other things, journalist and
                                                  promoter for Livigno and Valtellina.

Januar y, 2011   — 28 —
                                                                   ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

               tsunAmi’s EffEcts on tourism

Tourism companies sell Asian nature and cul-      of Sumatra caused a tsunami along the coast          tourists have been frightened about traveling
tural landscapes to their customers. Asia is a    on December 26, 2004.                                to this part of the world since the tsunami hit.
land rich in different cultures, which is what      Asian governments were urging Western              over 7,000 tourists are said to have died from
makes traveling there so appealing. South and     tourists not to change their travel plans. Tour-     the disaster, and nearly 500 are missing. more
Southeast Asia sits along the Indian ocean, a     ism plays an important economic role in these        than half of the death toll came from the coun-
warm, inviting, and relaxing place to be. This    countries, and in some cases accounts for            try of Sweden, which lost 3,559 citizens to the
was the case until the earthquake off the coast   more than half of the country's income. many         tsunami.

Januar y, 2011                                                      — 29 —
                                                       ETHICAL   Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

  Imagine sitting on the beach without a worry
in the world, when suddenly the ocean's water
drains outward at an incredible rate. Would
you be intrigued to find out what happened,
and venture into the area where fish are now
flopping around, or where there are many sea
shells and other sea creatures suddenly vis-
ible? That is what many tourists did, and that
is how many of their lives were taken. Curiosity
got the best of them, while some indigenous
peoples knew better and sought refuge in the
  Indian ocean resorts had been experienc-
ing a good tourist season. most tourists
come from European countries and Austra-
lia. The area had been avoided for sometime
after the Bali bombings, Iraq invasion, and
the threat of SARS. After these problems
had begun to lessen, the tsunami suddenly
brought more worry to the tourism indus-
tries of the region.

  Indonesia was hit badly by the disaster, but
hardest hit was northern Sumatra. This region
is not a viable tourist hot spot, like other islands
in the country (such as Bali and Lombok), due
to an on-going civil war. The country hoped
to actually increase its tourist count because
most of its land was unharmed by the disaster,
but tourist counts fell by 16% from the month
of December to January. The previous year,
tourist counts were down just 2% between the
two months.
  Indonesia depends on its tourism industry for
about U.S. $5 billion per year and Bali accounts

Januar y, 2011                                         — 30 —
                                                                      ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

for about 60% of that income. Bali's tour-
ism had suffered from previous years mostly
because of terrorist bombings and the threat
of SARS. Bali was not affected physically by the
tsunami, but has been affected economically.

  Hotels, restaurants, and other travel busi-
nesses claim that the tsunami and aftershock
had no long term impacts on Phuket's booking
and arrivals, but one source states that there
was a 27% drop in tourism.
  "It's 99 percent operational now," Simon J.
Hand, a Phuket resident who is associate edi-
tor of Asia-Pacific Tropical Homes magazine,
said in late march. "At its worst, it was 90 per-
cent operational. Patong Beach is the main
tourist trap, and the wave hit everything along
the shorefront road. But 150 yards farther up,
even the next day, you wouldn't have known
anything happened."
  The Bangkok Phuket Hospital is working to
                                                                     sri lAnKA                            island, but the strategy has had only limited
bring tourism back to the country. It claims
                                                                                                          success. many areas remain in such bad shape
that now is the time to visit Thailand, since         Sri Lanka was hardest hit in the southern           that they offend the sensibilities of visitors
there are many special deals at hotels and          regions. At first, workers in the tourism indus-      who come in search of poolside relaxation."
restaurants. Now, during the high season, the       try were upset at what appeared to be a lack
beaches are not over-crowded. The beaches           of sympathy from tourists. Seeing tourists              About 800,000 people depend on the tour-
are now cleaner than they have ever been due        laughing and enjoying themselves was tough,           ist industry either directly or indirectly in Sri
to cleanup efforts after the tsunami. Tourism       considering many of the workers had lost their        Lanka. "Hotels across the country are running
websites assert that the best way to help the       homes, families, and possessions to the tsu-          an average at 20% capacity, even thought 80%
area recover is to simply visit it! They also try   nami. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in       of them were untouched by the disaster"
to lure some people in with saying                  Sri Lanka, so when the industry started to slide,
                                                    feelings were pushed aside to and more efforts                               indiA
  "We are ready for tourists that want to use
our service like plastic surgery, dental treat-     were made to bring more people to the island.           It seems that India's tourism industry was
ments, or eye LASIK at TRSC at a fraction of the      "The Tourism ministry has begun a $6 million        not as badly hit as other countries. most tour-
price in most western countries."                   marketing campaign to lure visitors back to the       ist areas are along the Arabian Sea, while the

Januar y, 2011                                                         — 31 —
                                                                            ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

Bay of Bengal supports local fisheries. There              lEt's bring tHE tourists bAcK!
is one large commercial destination, Chennai
                                                          The Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(formerly madras), on the eastern coast of
                                                        (ASEAN) is working to find a solution in bring-
India that was hit hard. About 650,000 peo-
                                                        ing tourists back to the area. ASEAN is a group
ple were displaced in this area. Areas worst            of 10 member countries in Southeast Asia.
affected were the islands that are closest to           members are working together to lure tourists
the epicenter, which lie on the tip of India.           into not only their own countries, but to South-
  "Indira Point, which was India's southern-            east Asia as a whole. They have been invit-
most tip and a 100-sq km island, has just dis-          ing international travel writers and sending
appeared into the ocean... Although there               promotional video clips to potential tourists.
were some tourists and Andaman & Nicobar                ASEAN is also working to create more tourism
Islands were being positioned to become the             amongst its own citizens to offset the loss from
next maldives, these plans will now need to be          foreign travelers.
shelved, as there has been huge loss of coral             Governments maintain that their countries are
and other marine life. Loss along India’s main          safe for travelers and if anyone truly wants to
coastline was concentrated on some regions              help, they can start by reviving their tourist econ-
and recovery and re-habilitation work is cur-           omies. ASEAN is also working to make beaches
rently ongoing."                                        safer, for example, there have been talks of set-
  The tourism outlook for India remains strong          ting up a tsunami early-warning system.
as its hotspots were not severely damaged,                The countries understand that there is a psy-
except for the Andaman and Nicobar islands.             chological reason that tourists have not chosen
They also hope to bring in more tourists that           them as destinations in recent months, but are
would have otherwise gone to Thailand and               optimistic that the effects of the tsunami will
malaysia.                                               not be long-term and tourists will return soon.
                                                                                            (Text shortened)

Taipei Times :
Bertand's Weblog:
7,000 foreign tourists killed in tsunami: Hindustand,001301540000.htm
Tsunami recovery: Tourism in Asia Starts Back:
Tsunami Wave-an economic Tourist Disaster-Saturday, 8th January 2005 at 4 Hoteliers:

By Jennifer De Vries (

Januar y, 2011                                                              — 32 —
                  ETHICAL   Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

         EmErgEncy:                                Tourism is often described as a fragile industry
                                                   in that demand for travel is highly susceptible
                                                   to numerous factors. Nevertheless, for many

     mAcHu PiccHu closEd
                                                   countries the tourism sector is an important
                                                   contributor to the economy. Especially in some
                                                   less economically developed countries the
                                                   local economy is dependent upon and greatly
                                                   relies upon the tourism industry. one of the
                                                   most unforeseeable forces affecting tourism
                                                   are natural disasters. Natural disasters can
                                                   have a tremendous impact on tourism as they
                                                   usually destroy the natural environment and
                                                   infrastructure and thus tourism is significantly
                                                   disrupted. Additionally, natural disasters more
                                                   often than not cause an increase in tourists’
                                                   concerns about security and safety.
                                                     In late January 2010 Peru’s south-eastern
                                                   region, the Cusco area, experienced heavy
                                                   torrential rains which forced a two month clo-
                                                   sure of Peru’s top tourist attraction, the Inca
                                                   Citadel of machu Picchu. The Urubamba River,
                                                   which runs down past the Inca ruins on machu
                                                   Picchu, swelled to an unexpected volume
                                                   of water and up to 20,000 people had their
                                                   homes destroyed by the floods. According to
                                                   The Economist, officials predicted a damage of
                                                   $240m to infrastructure and farming.
                                                     machu Picchu with the pre-Columbian Inca
                                                   site is one of the most popular tourist desti-
                                                   nations in South America and normally some
                                                   68,000 people a month come to visit the ruins.
                                                   Locals depend on those tourists, who reach
                                                   the site either by walking along the Inca Trail,
                                                   or via train.
                                                     The machu Picchu railway, which carried
                                                   about 2,200 tourists a day was destroyed by
                                                   the floods and the Inca ruins of machu Picchu

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                                                                      ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

                                                    half-price flights and hotel rooms to visit Cusco,
                                                    the city nearest the world-famous machu Pic-
                                                      According to the World Travel and Tourism
                                                    Council, the tourism revenues represent a
                                                    highly significant 7.4 percent of the country’s
                                                    Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore
                                                    great losses in this sector would affect thou-
                                                    sands of jobs. The Peruvians seemed to have
                                                    recognized the problem that was highlighted
                                                    by the crisis – Peru’s over-dependence on
                                                    machu Picchu for the tourism sector.
                                                      BBC online anticipated that “the number of
                                                    holidays cancelled by European, Japanese and
                                                    US tourists is clear evidence that for almost
                                                    all first-time travellers to Peru, it's machu Pic-
                                                    chu or bust”. Thus, the country decided to
                                                    seize the opportunity and to diversify its tour-
were cut of from the lower sites. The heavy                                                                 Nevertheless, Peru seems to be back on
                                                    ism sector in both the short and long term.
rains forced the evacuation of thousands of                                                               track. Shortly after the floods the govern-
                                                    officials tried to encourage visitors to explore
tourists from machu Picchu. As the Cusco                                                                  ment estimated that despite the difficulties,
region accounts for a high percentage of the        different parts of Peru such as the Nazca lines       about 2.2 million tourists would travel to Peru
country’s tourism revenue, Peru was facing          and the Colca canyon. other attractions in            in 2010. With its main attraction, the machu
fears of a tourism decline resulting from the       the Cusco region that have been promoted to           Picchu, and the initiative to diversify and also
natural disaster. In fact, thousands of foreign     keep people coming to Peru were Sacsayhua-            promote other attractions Peru is likely to hold
tourists cancelled their holidays to Peru. The      mán fortress, the Coricancha sun temple or            and maybe even improve its position as one of
inaccessibility of machu Picchu caused a loss       the town of Pisac.                                    the top South American travel destinations.
of at least a million dollars a day for the Peru-     The re-opening of machu Picchu at the                 In the end it clearly shows how important
vian tourism industry.                              beginning of April 2010 was of symbolic and           crisis management is in tourism, especially if
  Bartolome Campana, director of the National       economic importance to Peru. Peru's Tour-             tourism is such an essential part of the coun-
Chamber of Tourism, highlighted the impor-          ism minister martin Perez estimated a loss of         try’s economy. But it also demonstrates that
tance of the tourism sector for Peru when he        $185m (£122m) for the time the machu Picchu           relying on a single attraction that acts as a pil-
admitted that the country is dependent on           was closed. And according to Richard Leon,            lar of a whole industry can have tremendous
tourism. The government reacted quickly and         Director of the travel company Peru For Less,         impacts in times of global warming and an
launched a campaign to deal with the destruc-       the natural disaster has been more disruptive         increase in natural disasters.
tion. To help the tourism industry, government      to Peru’s tourism industry than the financial
cut off prices. Domestic tourists were offered      crisis and the swine flu combined.                    By Wiebke Wohlfahrt

Januar y, 2011                                                         — 34 —
                                                                     ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

                        crisis mAnAgEmEnt:
                    EyjAfjAllAjoKull EruPtion
  Mt. eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland                                                                 It is a bit ironic that at the same time as for-
wreaked havoc on Europe’s air transport sys-                                                             eign visitors cancelled their trip to Iceland many
tem and threatened to turn off the steady                                                                locals and some brave foreign visitors flocked
number of foreign tourists expected to visit                                                             to the eruption to see it in action at close quar-
Iceland in 2010. Tourism stakeholders in Ice-                                                            ters. It was a great spectacle to see the red
land, alarmed by twenty percent drop in visi-                                                            hot lava with a yellow glow spout from one,
tor numbers in April and may compared to the                                                             and sometimes two, fissures before it flowed
previous year, got together and pooled their                                                             slowly down the hill in a northerly direction.
efforts in a joint marketing campaign named                                                                In one place the lava poured over the edge
Inspired by Iceland.                                                                                     of a deep gorge and spread half way down like
  The eruption claimed no lives and no homes                                                             the ribs of a fan turned upside down. People
were destroyed. A column of extremely fine                                                               watched this phenomenon in awe from a natu-
grain ash rose high up in the sky where wind                                                             ral viewing platform on the opposite site, lis-
picked it up and blew it out to sea. Eventually                                                          tening to the crumbling sound of the molten
the ash reached Britain and Ireland, mainland                                                            lava crushing down and felt its heat on their
Europe and Scandinavia and airports in those                                                             face and body.
areas were temporarily shut for passenger           area for a while prior to the eruption there had
                                                    been no clear indication of an imminent erup-          As many as 5.000 people visited the eruption
safety reasons.                                                                                          in a single day using various modes of trans-
  A distinction must be made between two                                                                 port to get there. Although most used modi-
separate eruptions in and around mt. Eyjafjal-        Standard precautionary acts included the           fied SUvs some actually walked while others
lajokull in 2010. The first one took place on the   immediate closure of airports. Some 800 peo-         used a snowmobile, a mountain bike or a heli-
Fimmvorduhals Pass and the second one which         ple living in the vicinity of the mountain were      copter to experience the sight.
produced the ash took place under the icecap        summoned to leave their homes for the night
near the top of mt. Eyjafjallajokull.               for safety reasons. In hindsight those pre-            mt. EyjAfjAllAjoKull EruPtion
                                                    cautionary measures were unnecessary but
  fimmvorduHAls PAss EruPtion                       made it into the news worldwide thus rais-             A second eruption started on 14 April below
                                                    ing an alarm amongst individuals and school          the icecap of mt. Eyjafjallajokull and ended
 on 20 march 2010 a volcanic fissure opened         groups about to visit the country. As a result       rather unceremoniously around the middle of
on Fimmvorduhals Pass (1,100 m) between             many postponed their visit to Iceland until fall     may. This eruption was triggered by the first
Eyjafjallajokull and myrdalsjokull glaciers.        while others gave up on the idea of visiting all     eruption and was the one that proved cata-
Although geologists had been monitoring the         together.                                            strophic for aviation in Europe and tourism at

Januar y, 2011                                                        — 35 —
                                                                      ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

                                                    no effect or little effect on air travel between      countries as well as best crisis management
                                                    Iceland and the Americas.                             campaign categories.
                                                                                                            Icelanders were encouraged to take part in
                                                      insPirEd by icElAnd mArKEting                       the campaign by sending a message to foreign
                                                                cAmPAign                                  friends abroad and contribute videos. Perhaps
                                                      The ministry of Tourism, Industry and Energy        more important than the concrete success or
                                                    in co-operation with Icelandair and Iceland           failure of the campaign is the new found col-
                                                    Express airlines, Reykjavik city, the Export          lectiveness of diverse groups of stakeholders in
                                                    Council and the Iceland Tour operators’               tourism – ranging from the general public to
                                                    Association launched an ambitious market-             the government, local authority, travel agents,
                                                    ing campaign named Inspired by Iceland. The           tour operators, restaurants and transport com-
                                                    campaign which cost US$ 6 million ran from            panies.
                                                    mid-may through mid-July 2010 and was sup-
                                                    posed to convey the message that it was safe                         lEssons lEArnt
                                                    to travel to Iceland. The campaign included             A memorandum from stakeholder’s close-
large. The composition of the magma in the          a fresh internet approach using community             up meeting reiterates positive aspects gained
second eruption was much more explosive             based websites such as Facebook and Twitter           from the campaign. Tourism stakeholders
than in the first eruption. Further, meltwater      and reached about 2 million people, press trips       worked together united with the one goal in
from the glacier came into contact with the         for travel journalists, website advertising ban-      mind to minimize the negative economic effect
magma and caused even more violent explo-           ners in several countries etc.                        of the two eruptions by attracting more tour-
sions. This combination produced 10 km high           Although it is quite difficult to assess the        ists. Locally the campaign brought attention to
column of very fine ash above the mountain.         campaign’s actual success it is a fact that in the    the importance of the tourism industry which
  People’s perception of the magnitude of the       period January to November there was only             until now has been seen as a marginal industry
eruption and its effect on Iceland and its people   1.5 percent decline in the number of visitors         by the public and policy makers.
was greatly exaggerated by the media. Indeed,       in 2010 compared to the same period in the
if it had not been for the media, people in         previous year. A much less drop then feared.
Reykjavik, just over an hour’s drive away from      Those responsible for the campaign are happy          By Stefan Helgi Valsson
the mountain, would have remained oblivious         with its success. It was even nominated in two        Stefan Helgi Valsson is a freelance journalist and lec-
to its existence. All four international airports   categories for the European Excellence Award          turer in tourism geography at the university of Iceland.
remained operational throughout the eruption        2010 – an award for best corporate commu-             He is a professional tourist guide in Iceland, tourist
with the exception that two had to be closed        nication and public relations in Europe. It was       guide trainer and founder of reykjavik Bike Tours.
for about five days in total. The eruption had      nominated in the best campaign in the Nordic

Januar y, 2011                                                         — 36 —
                                                                  ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

 joining forcEs: insPirEd                                                                             sectors of the economy. yet the way in which
                                                                                                      the Eyjafjallajökull eruption was tackled by the
                                                                                                      small nation’s tourism professionals and other

        by icElAnd
                                                                                                      interested parties led to a more successful
                                                                                                      peak season than even the most optimistic had
                                                                                                      thought possible.
                                                                                                        Joining forces, the Icelandic government, the
                                                                                                      City of Reykjavík, airlines Icelandair and Ice-
                                                                                                      land Express, Promote Iceland and about 80
                                                                                                      other tourism-related companies took quick
                                                                                                      actions to address challenges and misconcep-
                                                                                                      tions about travel to Iceland during and after
                                                                                                      the eruption. These actions began as an offen-
                                                                                                      sive crisis management effort to counter the
                                                                                                      worldwide impression that travelling to Ice-
                                                                                                      land was dangerous.
                                                                                                        A primary dimension of the strategy was the
                                                                                                      launch of the successful campaign Inspired by
                                                                                                      Iceland. The campaign encourages people to
                                                                                                      travel to the country with the argument that
                                                                                                      “Iceland has never been more awake and there
                                                                                                      has never been a more exciting time to visit the
                                                                                                      country.” Its main focus is to allow individuals
                                                                                                      to share their stories and memories of Iceland,
                                                                                                      and hopefully turning a negative event—the
                                                                                                      fear caused by the volcano—into a positive
                                                                                                      result—changing the focus of international
                                                                                                      attention on Iceland into a chance to showcase
                                                                                                      the island’s many unique and appealing attri-
                                                                                                      butes. The campaign’s website, Inspiredbyice-
                                                                                            , is its main platform.
on 14 April 2010 a volcanic eruption started     wide. Within days of the eruption, a wave of           The campaign was launched on 3 June with
under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland,   cancellations began across all sectors and tour-     “Iceland Hour” – an hour during which the
generating considerable news about the           ist arrivals shrank by 22% in April alone. Had       entire nation became involved by sending tens
country, some of it inaccurate. The eruption’s   the situation been ignored, it would have had        of thousands of messages to family and friends
impact and the ash clouds that it caused are     a disastrous impact on the important tourism         all over the world. These messages included
now infamous in the tourism industry world-      industry in Iceland, one of the most important       links to a video promoting Iceland as a travel

Januar y, 2011                                                     — 37 —
                                                                      ETHICAL      Natural Dis a s t e r s : R e a l F o r c e M a j e u r e f o r To u r i s m

destination, using the upbeat song “Jungle            And he’s right. The newest figures evaluating       waves being the highlight, and from the spring
Drum” by Icelandic singer-songwriter Emiliana       “Inspired by Iceland” indicate a strong global        of 2011 Icelandic music and events will have a
Torrini. The video shows people joyously danc-      impact. Although the full effects of the cam-         new home in Harpa, the breathtaking concert
ing to Torrini’s song in various locations (both    paign will take some time to register, a sur-         hall and conference centre being built at Reyk-
rural and urban), demonstrating that Iceland is     vey conducted in the UK, Germany and Den-             javík harbour.
still full of life and unaffected by ash. Iceland   mark indicated increased interest in Iceland            Iceland, with its unspoiled nature and Scan-
Hour was a huge success, with one-third of the      as a destination. The objective of saving the         dinavian infrastructure, is also a perfect health
nation taking part. As of November 2010, the        high season was also achieved, with figures           and wellness destination, taking visitors far
website with the video has been visited over        for travellers coming to Iceland equalling the        from the madding crowd and welcoming them
three million times.                                number for 2009 with only a 0.6% decrease,            in peaceful and tranquil surroundings. Come
  Celebrities also joined the campaign by shar-     and with a 12% increase in incoming travel-           and be active, be inspired.
ing their stories; among them are yoko ono, Eric    lers in october.
Clapton and viggo mortensen. over 500 stories         Iceland has never been more awake – its
from friends of Iceland have also been shared on    rough landscape and ever-changing weather
the website. Stephen Fry, the British television    is an important part of the attraction and lei-       By Anna Valdimarsdóttir ( and
presenter, tweeted: “Despite what you might         sure of this Iceland in the North Atlantic. The       Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir (
think, Iceland is as alive and charming as ever.”   Icelandic music scene is alive, with Iceland Air-

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Description: Natural disasters – floods, rains, earthquakes, volcano eruptions – impact immensely the tourism industry of the affected destinations. Learn about the Valtellina Flood, tsunami, Machu Picchu’s troubles with rain as well as the volcanoes in Iceland.