The Boston Globe recently ran a very interesting, if short, editorial on the benefits of disaster tourism:
The residents of Joplin, Missouri suffered unspeakable tragedy when the May, 2011, tornado left the small city in ruins and 161 people dead. Today, Joplin is in the midst of a new crisis as city leaders, under fire, backed down from proposals to market the devastation and recovery as “tornado tourism.’’ While every effort should be made to respect the solemn nature of Joplin’s history, the city should reconsider: Disaster tourism is a natural part of any tragedy that engages, and sometimes enrages, a nation.
An interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of before. Usually, such activities are easily cast as predatory or manipulative. However, the editors of the Globe make the good point that disasters are learning experiences, not just for those directly impacted but for society in general. For every person who goes and tours a former disaster site, a few might go home and perhaps not only prepare for the unthinkable themselves, but share that message with others.