Monday, December 5, 2011

Making the Most of Disaster

I've noticed several commercials on television lately, promoting the Gulf states as tourist attractions. Apparently tourism is at its highest in nearly a decade, which makes sense since people would have been traveling to disaster sites if they'd gone there during most of the past several years. But then, the disaster sites have actually become tourist attractions in themselves.

In New Orleans, several tour companies offer trips to the (still) ravaged parts of the Lower 9th Ward where they haven't completely demolished the damaged  houses, and haven't re-built much either. I can't help but wonder whether they even plan to? Is the tourist trade more profitable than new houses would be?

I actually enjoyed this part of my trip to New Orleans in 2008 and 2009, and wouldn't blame the city for keeping some of the damage intact. Like places in Europe that maintain the destruction from WWII, the Lower 9th Ward is a point of curiosity.

What I find most interesting about the new tourism ads for the Gulf states is that the commercials are sponsored by bp. I assume that's their way of rectifying the damage they did to the small businesses that were hurt by dwindling tourism after the massive oil spill. Which makes me wonder whether part of the damaged, oily beaches still remain, too, as another tourism attraction? It's almost worth a trip down there to see.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know, I have very mixed feelings about profiting off of disaster… (Also about poverty tourism, or philanthropy tourism, etc.) I mean, you make a good point in likening it to the destruction from World War II -- there is a historical aspect that is worthwhile. But I don't know, there's also something... almost voyeuristic about it right now. Then again, maybe that's how people in Europe felt after the war. Maybe I just need some distance.