The Recovery of a Tourist Destination After a Natural Disaster

Moshakova, Elena
Lück, Michael
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Master of International Tourism Management
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Auckland University of Technology

Natural disasters are one of the possible crises encountered by tourism destinations. Generally, natural calamities are difficult to predict or control, and in recent decades, the frequency of hazardous occurrences has grown, affecting all industries related to tourism.

The image and reputation of a tourism destination are quite vulnerable to disastrous events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, or volcano eruptions. In fact, natural disasters can significantly damage tourist sights, infrastructure, and tourists' positive perception of destinations, causing concerns about safety issues and weakening their wish to have a holiday in the affected places. One of the main changes in tourists’ behaviour after a disaster includes the increasing number of cancellations. The major concerns of tourists are the health and safety risk involved in visiting a travel destination where a natural disaster has occurred, along with social risks and the risk of the unsatisfied expectations of the travel experience, which provoke travellers to cancel their trips. Thus, a negative image of the tourist destination may lead to the loss of tourist revenue and harm the local tourism sector to various degrees.

Even though tourism is vulnerable to natural disasters, the sector is typically poorly prepared for these kinds of events and usually takes only a passive position. It has a lack of such aspects as awareness, appropriate planning, adversity to risk, financial and knowledge resources as well as responsibility for dealing with disastrous events. This list might also include the insufficient scale of the organisations involved and a failure in the perception of the industry cohesion due to businesses being privately owned. However, the possibility of devastating consequences of natural disasters should stimulate the tourism industry to consider crisis planning and take a proactive approach in attempts to regulate and solve emergency situations effectively. Moreover, strategic management could mitigate some negative consequences and make an essential contribution to destination development.

The aim of this research is to explore how tourism destinations can cope with natural disaster consequences. This dissertation employs secondary research exclusively, which is the analysis of data collected from various sources including books, articles, official statistics, and reports. The research uses the qualitative multiple case study method to observe the correlations within the information through a thematic analysis, which is a widespread method and the main component of analytical induction. Three cases were chosen for this work: the Maldives, Phuket in Thailand, and Christchurch, in New Zealand. These destinations are reviewed through crisis management models, which are commonly described in the academic literature, to determine effective actions within the tourism sector in pre-and post-disaster periods. Besides, the research analyses available official data to identify the amount of time required for the afflicted destination to restore tourist arrivals. Finally, the dissertation investigates previous research and publicly available information on Internet resources to determine how the tourism industry in the affected areas changes after disaster events.

Natural disaster , Tsunami , Tourism , Tourism recovery , Earthquake , Christchurch , Phuket , Maldives
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