Why You Shouldn’t Get Involved in ‘Volcano Tourism’

Dec 30, 2018

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Recently, tourists have been caught intentionally approaching active volcano sites to encounter the rare phenomenon of a hot lava eruption. Now, a report from the Royal Geographical Society is warning against volcano tourism, as it has dangerous effects.

The tourists traveling to active volcano sites have been coined volcanophiles, and geographer Amy Donovan, who conducted the study on volcano tourism, said that they’re, “fascinated by the elemental power of volcanoes and are attracted by such an intense experience.” It’s also been predicted that, in this digital era, people want to get close to the dangerous formations to capture their own footage and images.

While it’s true that experiencing the eruption of a volcano is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Dr. Donovan explained that it seems that those participating in volcano tourism are not aware of potential risks.

There are many potential injuries and health risks that can occur when in close proximity to active volcanoes, including impact from rocks, contact with hot lava and, if close to a ‘fire fountain,’ the possibility of harming lungs from poisonous gases. On top of that, volcanoes can be highly unpredictable, erupting calmly at one moment and explosively not long after.

And there are potential risks beyond that of the health of volcano tourists. Emergency response units could be (and have been) impacted as well. Tourists who choose to go beyond regulated areas during an eruption force emergency authorities to risk their health and safety in their rescue efforts, and the addition of tourists can put a damper on the timeliness of safety plans.

Back in Iceland in 2010, tourists died trying to get close to a volcano by crossing a glacier. Tourists have also tried to bend the rules in Iceland by hiring a helicopter to land near a volcano.

Dr. Donovan explained that the situation is difficult to address. “Many active volcanic countries face the dilemma of wanting tourists, but also wanting to keep people safe, which creates a difficult conundrum,” she shared.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a naughty bunch of tourists put themselves in risky situations. We’ve seen them scale dangerous cliffs for the ‘Gram and mistakenly (and drunkenly) climb the Alps instead of heading back to the hotel room.


Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

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