JUL 409 - Natural Disasters and Its Effect on Tourism in United Kingdom

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Natural Disasters and its effect on Tourism in United Kingdom: Evaluating the impact and disaster management of flooding in Northern UK in the last five years.

1. Introduction All the industries in the world face internal and external factors that affect their business either positively or negatively. External factors are the events or change in circumstances that are beyond human control. Perhaps the most impactful and the most sudden of these external factors is a natural disaster. Any hazard that occurs naturally as a result of Earths behavior is called a natural disaster (Abbot, 2008). Examples of natural disasters include, but are not limited to, earthquakes, tsunamis (oceanic earthquakes), hurricanes or cyclones and finally floods. In the United Kingdom, the most critical and repeated natural disaster are floods that, in the last five years alone, have caused great damage to life, property and environment. The hospitality industry depends a great deal on the tourism industry and both could be considered to be so deeply vested into each other that thinking about one without bringing the other into focus is impossible (Rodgers, 2001). As both of these industries depend on the weather and the environmental conditions of a city or country the floods in the last five years in United Kingdom have raised a great source of concern for these industries.

1.1 Background study on natural disasters in U.K.: In 2007, 6 people were left dead in Yorkshire due to heavy floods. These floods were caused by meteorological reasons such as the low pressure anti-cyclonic regions that developed in Northern Ireland in the early days of June, 2007 (Mambretti, 2011). The flood effected thousands of lives by causing communication, infrastructure and transportation breakdowns. Other areas that were heavily affected by the floods in 2007 were Sheffield, Hull, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Of course, as could be deduced, such terrible loss of life, property and environment lead to a

downfall in the total number of tourists visiting the United Kingdom which ultimately hit the tourism industry very badly. Not only were the floods of 2007 responsible for the downfall in the number of tourists, the flooding in Wansbeck River which occurred on 6th September, 2008 also affected it severely (Page & Connell, 2006). This flood is also called as the 2008 Morpeth Flood as Morpeth, situated in Northumberland, England, was the town strongly devastated by this flood. This flood was caused as a result of continuous heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours. The effects of this flood were seen socially, economically and environmentally in Morpeth. Hundreds of residents of Morpeth were forced to leave their homes and to live in caravans and take shelter in schools. Economical damage was recorded to almost a thousand properties, mostly of which were residential properties. With a gross economic loss of almost 40 million GBP, the Morpeth flood had strong consequences on the lives of the residents as well as on the decisions on any perspective tourists in that area. At the peak of the flood, the main Morpeth High Street was under 2 feet of water, damage that had not been seen since 1963 (BBC.co.uk, 2008).

In 2009, UK was once again shocked and devastated by the tragedies and losses faced in the Great Britain and Ireland floods of 2009. The floods started in November and went into December and they resulted in heavy damage in Cumbria County. In Ireland, counties of Clare, Cork, Galway and Westmeath were the worst affected areas. A total of five deaths were recorded during this time period (Euronews, 2009). Countless people were forced to leave their homes from Ireland, Isle of Man, and Great Britain and the estimated damage caused in Great Britain alone was 0.1 million Euros.

The most recent case of potential flood occurred in June, 2012 when meteorologists issued

several warnings of possible flood occurrences. The Environment Agency issued a staggering number of 90 flood warnings on 6th July, 2012 when torrential downpours hit the Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales. (Guradian, 2012).

1.2 Statement of aim and objectives: The aim of this master dissertation is to explore the possible solutions for the adverse impact of natural disasters of Northern UK on the UK tourism industry, in last five years. The aim can be manifested through several theories including tourism trends, disaster management and recovery strategy. In order to measure the aim, a strategy for measuring is necessary that involves primary research and secondary research, and the primary research which is based on questionnaires. Aim can be divided into three major objectives:

1) Analyzing the trends of Northern UK tourism in relation to the impact of natural disasters during the last 5 years; 2) Using the references for the experiences of dealing with natural disasters from other countries; 3) Exploring the strategy Northern UK tourism has to reduce the loss from natural disasters and 4) Possible forecasting and trends that can enable the Northern UK tourism industry to plan ahead of time.

As the truth is that only learning experiences are not good enough when facing natural disasters, finding a way to reduce the loss is an extremely urgent. The major reason for exploring more

strategies to deal with natural disasters is that the human technology cannot predict natural disasters totally and deal with them effectively. For this purpose, one of the available possibilities is changing the mindset of tourists and policy makers in the UK with a number of new ideas including the green paradigm, sustainable tourism and similar strategies. So to sum it up the following are the objectives:

Compiling a list of all the major floods in the Northern UK including the Midlands and analyzing their impact on the lives of these areas;

Analyzing the environmental, social and economical damage sustained by the residents of the these areas as an aftermath of these floods;

The response from the UK government to these floods; What can be some viable solutions to reduce the losses caused by these natural disasters in the Northern UK;

The role of Environmental Agency in issuing flood warnings and how effectively are these flood warnings been followed by the residents of the Northern areas of UK.

Analyzing the correlation between these natural disasters and the trend in the number of tourists coming to the Northern areas of UK.

1.3 Rationale and background Tourism and hospitality industries play major roles in the cultivation of a society, both socially and economically. The United Kingdom is ranked as the seventh biggest tourist destination in the world with a total of 29.2 million tourists visiting UK in 2011. A huge sum of 17.2 million US dollars was spent by these tourists while staying in the United Kingdom. Tourism in the UK

accounts for 96.2 million GBP, around 9% , of the total GDP (World Tourism Organization, 2006). The tourism and hospitality industry gives employment to almost 2 million people across UK. According to these statistics it is certain that tourism plays a major role in helping UK create more revenue and to have bigger budgets to spend. Needless to state that these floods pose a big threat to the tourism industry as no one would want to visit a country under water. To help UK sustain the high GDP that is contributed by tourism it is essential to point out the exact type of natural disasters hampering the development of the tourism industry. The most important of all natural disasters is flooding and to understand the effects of this natural hazard it is very important to also understand the root cause of these floods. The history of major floods in the UK should be kept in mind while trying to deduce a future solution to this dilemma. History will enable us to deduce the patterns of these floods and show us the actual devastation caused by the floods during the past five years. These floods, obviously, have long term effects on the economy, environment and society of the affected areas. These effects should also be accounted for while trying to come up with a solution for the problem. If a city or a region is not been able to rebuilt with complete rectification of all the problems then not a lot of tourists should be expected to visit that region. These social, economical and environmental effects of floods in Northern UK are going to be essential for our purpose. How the government handles the floods, what preparation does it make and what actions does it take after the floods pass are of the utmost criticality for finding a solution faced by the tourism and hospitality industries in Northern UK. Tourists are not likely to be attracted to a region if the government seems unwilling or helpless to deal with the damage in that region. The efforts of

UK government should be critically examined so that reasonable suggestions could be made on the solution. The Environment Agency is setup by the government to deal with natural hazards through out the UK and its role as an early warning system for floods and other natural hazards is also imperative to be understood for involving this already established and resourceful agency. Finally to achieve the aim of this thesis, all of these effects and the related decline in the tourism industry should be correlated and should be understood by the readers. A solution can only be reached if the problem is definitive and clear. The relationship between all the major aspects of the floods should be established and clearly defined in terms of logical interpretation to reach any solid proposal of solution.

References: Abbot, P. L., 2008. Natural Disasters. 1st edition. New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill. Rodgers, J. 2001. Travel and Tourism Advanced. 1st edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemman College. Mambretti, S. 2011. Flo