tourism review online magazine - natural disasters: real force majeure for tourism

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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.


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, tsunami, machu Picchus troubles with rain as well as the volcanoes in Iceland.


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 tourismValtellina 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, submerging 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 buried Sant'Antonio morignone and three other villages just south from Bormio under fortymillion 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 represent very good advertising though. of course, the zone wasn't in a business-as-usual situation, but virtually all the tourist areas were intact, albeit more difficult to reach. This was the case of resorts like madesimo and valmalenco, whereas Bormio and Livigno and the whole Upper valtellina, albeit unharmed, wereJanuar y, 2011



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% reimbursement of the weekly lift pass in the most affected towns (30% for the other ones).convincing tourists And sKEPtics

isolated from the rest of Italy (but could be reached through Switzerland). many reports on this disaster were 'spiced up' and imprecise, to say the least risking to ruin the good publicity linked to the 1985 Fis Ski World Cup hosted in Bormio.good PricEs AgAinst PrEjudicE

The local tourist office reacted quickly. After a very short time, two information points were set up on the road leading to the valley, in order to try and save the summer season by giving honest, up-to-date information on the current situation and on alternative routes. A second wave of bad weather, though, compromised this objective, and put the winter season in danger. Works started for the number-one priority (a road link with the Upper valtellina through theJanuar y, 2011

area ravaged by the landslide, which opened on 21st December that year), whereas the local tourist bodies decided to launch a heavy advertising campaign on newspapers and Tv channels mostly in Italy and Germany with the agreement of the regional and national authorities. Forza valtellina (Go valtellina) was the campaign's slogan. It was one of the first examples of an image rescue campaign for a resort, funded by an emergency measure just weeks after the disaster occurred. The main lever used to save tourism was represented by discounts on services (lift pass, thermal spas and shops). Accommodation prices were left untouched, as it was believed that lowering them would decrease the perceived value of the resorts, with a long-term negative effect. The valtellina Card was cre-

A8-page insert was included in the most important magazines (no less than 6 million copies over 4 weeks). Heavy discounts on normal advertising fees were obtained, mainly through personal contacts. Therefore an investment 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 visiting the area and some of them actually making last minute decisions to spend their summer holidays in Upper valtellina just after the flood. Support also came from Standa, a famous chain of department stores which organized special contests among its customers. Not everybody, though, believed in the success of these measures for example, the lift owner in Bormio didn't want to open that winter. He was convinced through bank guarantees signed by local operators who agreed to cover any loss which might occur. Luckily for them, they didn't have to pay anything, as the season went so well, with an actual increase in the lift passes sold! The authorities seized all possible occasions to promote the province, even in the following years. Among the many initiatives, a 1,000 sq. m. pavilion during the 1988 trade fair in milan was open. Another way to have positive media coverage came from sport events, such as the Fis Ski World Cup races or the Giro d'Italia bicycle competition.



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 disappeared except for the scar left by the big landslide, which is still visible. The road system 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 better 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 precious information provided.By Adriano Pedrana Adriano Pedrana is, among other things, journalist and promoter for Livigno and Valtellina.

Januar y, 2011



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

tsunAmis EffEcts on tourism

Tourism companies sell Asian nature and cultural landscapes to their customers. Asia is a land rich in different cultures, which is what makes traveling there so appealing. South and Southeast Asia sits along the Indian ocean, a warm, inviting, and relaxing place to be. This was the case until the earthquake off the coastJanuar y, 2011

of Sumatra caused a tsunami along the coast on December 26, 2004. Asian governments were urging Western tourists not to change their travel plans. Tourism plays an important economic role in these countries, and in some cases accounts for more than half of the country's income. many

tourists have been frightened about traveling to this part of the world since the tsunami hit. over 7,000 tourists are said to have died from the disaster, and nearly 500 are missing. more than half of the death toll came from the country of Sweden, which lost 3,559 citizens to the tsunami.



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 visible? 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 mountains. Indian ocean resorts had been experiencing a good tourist season. most tourists come from European countries and Australia. 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 industries of the region.indonEsiA

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 accountsJanuar y, 2011



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 tourism 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.tHAilAnd

Hotels, restaurants, and other travel businesses 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 editor of Asia-Pacific Tropical Homes magazine, said in late march. "At its worst, it was 90 percent 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 bring tourism back to the country. It claims that now is the time to visit Thailand, since there are many special deals at hotels and restaurants. Now, during the high season, the beaches are not over-crowded. The beaches are now cleaner than they have ever been due to cleanup efforts after the tsunam


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