The Mt. Merapi volcanic eruption in Yogyakarta, Java that killed over 350 people and internally displaced about 400,000 people, is currently attracting scores of tourists. The ‘Volcano Tour Package’ is being added to the list of sites that Yogyakarta, the site of an ancient kingdom, has to offer. Tourists are taken to the village closest to the volcano to see the extent of devastation as a result of the eruption. The region had also seen a brief increase in tourism post the earthquake in Yogyakarta in 2006.
This trend, not unique to Indonesia as evidenced, post the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans
While such tourism does give a boost to the ruined economies of these places, the ethics of such a trend are being debated profusely. Also, in certain cases like that of Yogyakarta, since the probability of more eruptions still remains, the locals are worried about their safety since crowds of tourists clog traffic every weekend.
Implications from SFG:
While it may be classified as an alternative form of tourism, it may contribute significantly towards the country’s GDP in the future.... This trend may help develop economies of places ruined by major natural disasters.
Implications from IFTF:
While this is certainly morbid and possibly exploitative (there is an element of spectacle here), it points to new types of relationships and values. While tourism was largely about escapism in the past, this trend, as well as eco and cultural toursim, show a notable direction of change, in which people in the future will place a greater value on genuine connections and understanding (even if their attempts are misguided/not truly successful).
SFG Feb 2011: