Tourist safety

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The tragedy in New Zealand continues to unfold.

volcanos may look intriguing but they are dangerous. Should tourists be allowed to get so close that they can be in danger?

Visitors to White Island off the north island of the country were caught up in a volcanic eruption which has cost some of them their lives, injured many and must cause the tourism authority in the region to seriously consider the ramifications.

It appears that just last week a monitoring group said that there was an upsurge in activity but said that it posed no threat.

Obviously that view was incorrect.

The owners of the island and the tour operators who run trips to walk along the crater of the volcano will probably cite this as a reason to continue the tours.

The difficult questions that need to be asked include how some volcanologists got their analysis so wrong given how far understanding of volcanic eruptions has moved over the last thirty years.  Another is whether tour operators should deliver tours to live volcanoes in the first place. If they should, at what point do operators decide that there should err on the side of caution and stop tours?

These are all questions that will no doubt be asked over the coming months by the enquiry being set u by the New Zealand government..

For those people living nearby there is another question that requires an answer. If tours stop – and it is estimated that as many as ten thousand people take a tour of this volcano each year – then what other industry is there for locals that will provide them with a liveable income.

Volcanos are appealing to many people because of the images that we have seen in the past of gas fissures and, in particular, molten lava speeding down the volcano sides. In this case, rocks spewed from the crater –which people were walking around – and ash was release downing a helicopter pictures of which eerily stand in the place where tourists had been 24 hours earlier.

The tragedy will haunt New Zealand for some time to come. It should also haunt tour operators who offer dangerous tours in the face of nature at its most unforgiving.

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