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Thread: Disaster tourism articles

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Disaster tourism articles

    Talk of 'tornado tourism' stirs anger in Joplin

    Should the community market its devastated neighborhoods to tourists?
    There is a FB page - "Joplin Citizens Against Tornado Tours." which has many more articles.

    The results of google news search:
    joplin disaster tourism

    Should the CVB be doing this ? would you cooperate in such a project ?
    Oddball
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    We get quite a few tourists around here who come just to poke around, take pictures, what have you. The term is Ruin Pron. Many folks come from around the world to see this stuff. I consider them eyesores. They run around in buildings that should have been dondemmed and torn down years ago but for some reason have thier taxes paid and are hiding at the edge of lawlessness.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Talk of 'tornado tourism' stirs anger in Joplin



    There is a FB page - "Joplin Citizens Against Tornado Tours." which has many more articles.

    The results of google news search:
    joplin disaster tourism

    Should the CVB be doing this ? would you cooperate in such a project ?
    People are going to come anyway and look at what happened. Why not get in front of it, tell the story you want to tell, and help keep the recovery front of mind. By having the VCB running it they can also promote other places of interest and gear the campaign to keep the visitor intown long enough to spend money that will help with the recovery.

    Personally, the thought of going on one of those tours seems creepy.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Centralia, PA appears to be a popular ongoing 'disaster' tourism stop, too.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have worked in several disaster impacted communities. Depending on the place and the nature of the tourism, there can be some sensitivity. After a time we do tend to commemorate our greatest disasters, and the cities or historical parks around them can be tourist destinations. I think, perhaps, the key aspect is time. When the memory and pain fades, perhaps it will be more acceptable.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I have worked in several disaster impacted communities. Depending on the place and the nature of the tourism, there can be some sensitivity. After a time we do tend to commemorate our greatest disasters, and the cities or historical parks around them can be tourist destinations. I think, perhaps, the key aspect is time. When the memory and pain fades, perhaps it will be more acceptable.
    A good example is the Johnstown Flood National Memorial
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I can see how this can be a bit of a testy issue. I think in part it depends on the motivation of the tourist. The biggest and most obvious site to me seems like Ground Zero. Eventually, with a memorial, the objective IS to attract people there and to capture their tourist dollars. Prior to that, people, I think, are most likely draw there as a sort of personal pilgrimage or mourning process. I think its different than your typical rubber necking at highway crashes. Its a way to connect with a larger, national tragedy and some thing that has deeply impacted our society.

    But I'm not sure I can say the same for the Joplin gawkers. Seems like maybe they were just fascinated by the destruction which I agree seems insensitive to those that lived it.

    Then there is the "mission" driven visits to sites of destruction as discussed in another thread. I'm sure most people going to, say, Haiti to work on reconstruction are motivated by a desire to serve the greater good, but having recently met some evangelical volunteers who seemed primarily focused on saving souls and some sort of weird, neo-colonialist desire to bring civilization and righteousness to a backwards people, I have to wonder about some people's motivations. There was an implicit lack of respect and sense of superiority and pity toward the local community that I found really distasteful. They were going to save Haitians from themselves, it seemed, rather than partner with them to lift themselves up after a terrible tragedy (well, a series of terrible tragedies really).
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    OTOH, if I was heading across Kansas on US 54, I'd make it a point to spend some extra time to check out the progress of the City of Greensburg's reconstruction, the architecture, features and so forth of the new buildings, the changes in land use and further plans (ie, the planned US 54 bypass freeway being rerouted to go though instead of around town).

    The location is a bit remote, but I could see a Laefest being organized around that.



    Mike

  9. #9
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I completely empathize with the people of Joplin. In addition to the idea of "tornado tours" being insensitive to the vicitms of the disaster, with people cashing in on loss of life, you also don't want the whole world to continue to gawk and see the community at its weakest moment, while it is still trying to recover and rebuild. In my opinion, unless the visitors are there to help rebuild or truly have a reason to be there, they should just get out of the way (of what is still a "disaster zone").

    I remember just days after the NIU shooting, everyone was so tired of the news media, and their cameras and vans setting up shop in town, and misinterpreting things and getting things wrong along the way. It was like, "Just go away!" That incident is not representative of the university or the community, but unfortunately many around the world only know of NIU from that incident, and how the media reported on it. And that's wrong. Sure, there's the whole story of how strong the community was in coming together to help one another, but still, it's never good when your darkest hour is something that so many people are remembering you by and capitalizing on, ignoring the good assets that were there all along.

    I think part of it is time. Once a proper memorial is established and the community recovers and rebuilds, then it may be more appropriate to welcome visitors to these sites (which then become historical sites), but in a way that is respectful to the victims and their families.
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  10. #10
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    Disaster Tourism can be directed a better way with some effort.

    Greensburg, Kansas, flattened in May, 2007, has built back green and sustainable and now has a downtown bed and breakfast and visitor center devoted to showing tourists and visiting community leaders how a community can rise from its wreckage. Daniel Wallach and Catherine Hart proposed this effort to the local council and they agreed. They enlisted the help of the National Renewal Energy Lab's expertise and used lots of insurance funds, disaster relief assistance and local effort to make it less likely this will happen in the future. Interpreting their efforts is a part of their economic development activities and GreenTown is the local nonprofit telling their story. Search on "The Greening of Greensburg."
    I know much of the tourist interest is morbid and undesirable, but we can use their interests and energy to help drive more positive change with thoughtful planning and collaboration.

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TimFMerriman View post
    Greensburg, Kansas, flattened in May, 2007, has built back green and sustainable and now has a downtown bed and breakfast and visitor center devoted to showing tourists and visiting community leaders how a community can rise from its wreckage. Daniel Wallach and Catherine Hart proposed this effort to the local council and they agreed. They enlisted the help of the National Renewal Energy Lab's expertise and used lots of insurance funds, disaster relief assistance and local effort to make it less likely this will happen in the future. Interpreting their efforts is a part of their economic development activities and GreenTown is the local nonprofit telling their story. Search on "The Greening of Greensburg."
    I know much of the tourist interest is morbid and undesirable, but we can use their interests and energy to help drive more positive change with thoughtful planning and collaboration.
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