More Than Ever Gulf Needs Tourists to Swim Against the Tide
No one wants to be called a tragedy tourist. Not
"I travel to learn, and witness, and share," she said. "If it's bad, I want to know how bad it is."
Any surprise then that next on Badham's "to-do" list is the coast of
As tens of thousands of travelers cancel their beach vacations in the wake of the massive oil spill, a small number of tourists will swim against the tide. Too bad it's just a small number. If ever there were a time to visit the
Some will go to volunteer, although most of the organizations assisting with oil spill damage are requesting only trained volunteers. A few will be like Badham: curiosity-seekers who want to experience the aftermath of a tragedy. And an undetermined number will fall into both categories, which is to say, they want to help, but they also want a front-row seat to destruction.
Even the experts often can't tell one from the other.
"Like most forms of tourism, whether it's beneficial or not depends on how it's conducted," Motiwalla said. "We believe that travel to a disaster site can be done responsibly if tourists do not interfere with the recovery efforts."
Where do tragedy tourists go? The top destinations include sites of historical disasters, such as
But modern calamities are big draws, too. They include Ground Zero in
"People don't visit tragic destinations or sites to gawk -- or to view it the same way they would a horror film," said Smith. "They see it as honoring the victims and educating younger generations."
I'd like to think so, too. But really, does anyone believe that people are going to arrive in a city that has been flattened by a tsunami and not marvel at the devastation before putting on a pair of gloves to help clean up? I couldn't do it.
Neither can the folks who visited
Or perhaps they're just contrarians who want more from their vacations than gorging themselves on midnight buffets, roasting in the sun and drinking cheap margaritas.
What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.
"We aren't visiting to see oil or even volunteer for cleanup," she said. "Our reason behind the unplanned
I think she's right. Whether you're a tragedy tourist, a do-gooder or just someone who cares about the local economy, there's no better time than now to plan a vacation to
Go on; let them call you a tragedy tourist. The real tragedy would be staying away.
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