Resilience, Tourism and Disasters

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Becken, Susanne
Khazai, Bijan
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Butler, RW

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Natural and man-made disasters, including the impacts of geological events, climatic disasters, terrorism and war, have the potential to severely affect tourism. The Arab Spring, for example, in 2011 saw a decrease in tourist arrivals in Egypt from 14.1 million in 2010 to 9.2 million in 2013, and 9.1 million in 2015 (UNWTO, 2016b). The country has been subject to multiple crises since then, including the overthrow of President Morsi in 2013 and several terrorism attacks. The earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal on the 25 April 2015 killed over 8000 people and left much of the tourism infrastructure devastated, including several of the World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. The natural disaster was followed by cancellation of 80% of hotel reservations in the months after the earthquake (Misrahi, 2015). Recovery is hampered by challenging terrain and limited resources.

Some destinations experience disasters more often than others. Tropical regions and small island states, for example, are not only particularly exposed but also tend to be more vulnerable due to a range of human and environmental factors. In the South Pacific, Category 5 tropical Cyclone Pam (13 March 2015) destroyed large areas of agricultural land and also severely damaged tourism infrastructure such as coastal resorts. Pam was the most intense cyclone in the southern hemisphere ever measured, and one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. Only 1 year later, another Category 5 cyclone formed: Cyclone Winston topped Cyclone Pam in strength and made landfall in Fiji on the 20 February 2016. In total, the Pacific Island countries, saw 207 major natural disasters (157 of them wind-storms) between 1950 and 2004, affecting over 3.5 million people in the region, impacting on infrastructure and causing economic damage costs of over US$6.5 billion (World Bank, 2006). Improving resilience to disasters is increasingly important, considering the dangerous combination of growing populations and increases in probability of some types of disasters, for example extreme climatic events (IPCC, 2013).

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Tourism and Resilience

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