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The tourism impact of volcanic eruption Essay

Executive summary

A volcanic eruption happened on Mount Ontake which caused over 50 tourist dead in centre Japan on September 27,2014. Mount Ontake located on the Japanese island of Honshu about 100 kilometers northeast of Nagoya and about 200 km southwest of Tokyo. This report discusses the impact of the Mt Ontake volcanic eruption in tourism industry and made some suggestion for the following recovery of Reconstruction process.


This report discusses the impact of the Mt Ontake volcanic eruption in tourism industry. Firstly, the issue and factor in tourism related to the loss of economic benefit in a period would be analyzed. This includes how it impacts the Mt Ontake, as it both is valuable nature resource and culture resource. Secondly, this eruption also raises people’s worry about other volcanic in Japan and existing volcanic eruption warning technology. Thirdly, the government should take more consideration of crisis management when the far-reach impacts of disaster happened. Fourthly, how the destination image effect the surrounding village would be discussed. And finally, the potential positive impacts include the opportunity that attention economy could bring.


A volcanic eruption happened on Mount Ontake which caused over 50 tourist dead in centre Japan on September 27,2014. Mount Ontake located on the Japanese island of Honshu about 100 kilometers northeast of Nagoya and about 200 km southwest of Tokyo. Mt Ontake is the second highest volcano in Japan at 3,067 m and the spread range of spewing a deadly blanket of ash, rocks and steam has at least 4 Kilometers of Mt Ontake (Nagano, 2014). Before the eruption, Mt Ontake had a Level One warning attached, which refers no particular restrictions for hikers. Mount Ontake has now been raised to Level Three, and people have been advised not to approach(AFP-JIJI,2014)

The local tourism fell into the freezing point at the moment and the economic loss has not been assess by the official yet. At the time of this report is written, the rescue and research of hiker is still occur and it has caused the most casualties in a volcanic eruption in Japan after the second world.

Impact &theory:

Before the eruption occur,Mt Ontake is one of the most popular religious mountains and hiking centre in Japan. Scenic is the resource of tourism, volcanic eruption brings not only direct economic losses, but also will bring huge tourism potential losses. According to Travel & Tourism Competitiveness report in 2013, Japan got rank 10th in the world in T&T human, cultural, and natural resources, which is higher than its Business environment and infrastructure rank 22 and T&T regulatory framework rank 22(Blanke&Chiesa, 2013). It means the natural resources such as volcanic, forest and hot spring are important part of Japan’s competitive advantage. Due to the damage of its scenic, tourist attraction will be discounted and the number of visitors will reduce that cause the immeasurable potential losses. Not just the tourist attractions was seriously damaged, the entire tourism industry chain have been hit, such as hospitality industry. Ash settling lead to a large area of crops affected, then the consequence is that local food prices will raise and make on an indirect impact on tourism industry.

Autumn would be best season for climbing and tourism industry was originally expected this season would be peak period after the summer low season. However, the volcanic eruption made tourists had to cancel the hotel room booking from surrounding villages (Sankei News, 2014). The culture resource of Japan would be important strength for the T&T industry as it got first rank in the world for culture experience (Blanke&Chiesa, 2013). Religion is an important part of experience in Japanese culture, and Mt Ontake is a fundamental religious site in Japan that many people choose Mt Ontake as a religious pilgrimage tours icon. Japan National tourism organization indicates Mt Ontake has been revered by Japanese people as a religious mountain through the ages. Even now, disciples wearing white clothing -kimono for ascetic training, come and go there refer a part of culture (JNTO, 2014). The religious center of Japan is in Kiso, the area of Mt Ontake. For the domestic religious tourists, Leah pointed out that the Japanese concept of tourism for a trip from the pilgrimage, so for them, the most important place when they are visiting is the land of temples and other religious places (Leah, 2008).

In the case of Mt Ontake can not be recovery to normal travel order in a short term, it can be expected that there would be a increase in other domestic important religious sites. For example, the tourist who was scheduled to visit this religious center in Kiso may choose to visit Tokyo’s religious center instead. The eruption also re-awakened the people’s worry about the other volcano in Japan. France Nihon University Joint research articles and worked in July noted that Fuji has great danger of the outbreak, after the 2011 earthquake in Japan (). Volcano experts point out that the last time Mount Fuji erupted was in 1707, just 49 days after the massive 8.7 magnitude Hoei earthquake(Telegraph). A very strong earthquake like that seen on 11 March 2011 (which caused a catastrophic tsunami) can heighten the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region due to an accumulation of magma,” he said in 2012(Telegraph). The impact would be the number of visitors fell within the volcano tourist areas, especially tourist area of Mount Fuji. On the other hand, Mt Fuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the tallest mountain in Japan. Mt Fuji is an iconic scenic of tourism in Japan, which welcomes some 300,000 climbers each year (AFP-JIJI, 2014).

In international travel, past travel experiences, as well as the type of risk and the feeling of security will affect the extent of future travel behavior and decision of tourists. sönmez & Greafe (1998a) Use the information set theory and protection motivation theory as a framework to explain why travelers would avoid certain destinations. The same Research scholars have examined in detail of eight-related variables that including international travel experience, perceived degree of risk, international travel attitude, age, gender, education, income and family’s children, in order to study selection factors and international holiday relations decision-making process between several key stages. The study found that international travel attitude, perceived risk and income has a direct impact on international vacation destination selection (sönmez& Greafe 1998b). This incident reflects the existing world eruption warning technology is not perfect, like the eruption has no warning before ahead. This will cause safety concerns of tourists to travel to volcano zone which may leads global volcanic tourism decrease.“What happened on Saturday was beyond our current prediction methods,” said Toshitsugu Fujii, head of the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The eruption of Mount Ontake has raised fears that more of Japan’s 110 active volcanoes could spring into life with little or no warning, with experts admitting they simply do not know when and where the next eruption will occur(telegraph). The world most famous tourist attractions include the US Yellowstone National Park, Mount Fuji in Japan, Hawaii etc. are active volcanoes tourist areas, more or less there will be a decrease on the number of tourists. World Tourism Organization (2003) described the crisis as any unexpected event that affects traveller confidence in a destination and interferes with the ability to continue operating normally. Laws, Faulkner & Moscardo (1998) Believes that the tourism industry is known as dynamic chaos, however, tourist destinations seemingly chaotic unsystematic crises, but within a certain order and under certain conditions. To discover the rule beyond the Chaos in order to prevent and respond to crises correct, it is good Implications especially for volcanic eruptions, which is predictability crisis.

The most critical and core part of crisis management is prevention that generate the lowest cost, most simple and convenient method. In order to better cope with the crisis, advance the development of a detailed, purposeful and strong operability crisis management program is the best choice tourist destination crisis management, crisis warning system can achieve exactly this purpose. Successful crisis management requires a system capable of operating, functioning early warning system based on pre-crisis. According to a government study published in June, 80 percent of inhabited areas threatened by the effects of a potential nearby volcanic eruption have no evacuation plan(Tribune,2014). This reflects a serious lack of pre-event of the Japan Tourism Crisis Management. When a natural disaster such as this strikes, people want to know if there were any indicators that the volcano was going to erupt. Seismologist report that there were no such indicators, even though increased seismic activity had been measured for two weeks. In the coming days there will sure to be questions about how seismologist should have reacted to this increased activity and if the public should have been alerted to the outside potential threat of a volcano, even though the typical indicators of underground structural movement and increased seismic rattling did not occur.

Due to the high vulnerability of tourism industry and the domino interaction of crisis, the government should take more consideration of the crisis management in the reconstruction process. Faulkner(2001)from a wide range of crises and disasters start with the analysis of tourism-related disaster literature to establish a general model to analyze and develop tourism disaster management strategy, including a series of effective tourism disaster management plans prerequisites and principles(see appendix figure 1).This model indicate how we should behavior in crisis management, this is significant model could be applied when Japan are facing several disasters occur in recent decades. After 2011 years, the earthquake in Japan, Japan Travel Bureau on crisis management of the earthquake had a high awareness on the National level for the government handled the website, brochures, briefings and other production, seminars, lectures, and other disaster prevention poster contest outreach activities. In this case, Official in Japan will soon be reviewing their data to determine what, if anything, was missed that could have indicated an eruption was imminent.

Likely as well, an analysis of the disaster response to rescuing hikers from the mountain will be taken under analysis. Santana (2001) discusses the era of globalization of tourism vulnerability that is easily affected by the crisis in the tourism industry; one of the reasons is that each link between tourism is highly dependent, easy to produce a chain reaction. Surrounding villages have been affected by the eruption even they are not actually effect by the ash and rocks. Manufacturing gastrointestinal drugs “Mitake Herbs pill” Pharmaceutical companies Nagano in Nagano Otaki where disaster did not covered, but the original two Toyama swim team coach notified on the 28th went to visit the factory had cancel the trip (Sankei Shimbun,2014). Tourism Crisis and “Perception and destination image” theory also closely related. The perception of a place in tourists’ mind is forming the destination image. Visitors decide whether to go to a destination, based on image rather than a reality.

Therefore, destination marketing success, identify and create rely on the minds of potential visitors is largely the destination image. The Nagano Kiso is Located in the open field plateau distance Mount Ontake crater 10 kilometers above the foothills, barely affected by the eruption. In order to alleviate the negative destination image that referring to people fearing Kiso has effect by volcanic eruptions, local tourism practitioners advertise the safety of Kiso on social networking sites. When the Tourism Association posted local tourism industry are running as usual, however, they receive a steady stream of criticism from ordinary Japanese (Sankei Shimbun,2014).Because of distrust of potential crisis, people asking them to stop talking about the safety restraint publicity. But when practitioners stop the publicity, they actually suffered more questions that people suspect the local tourism industry is running under safety risks. The fail of local tourism industry indicated that the situation is still not the proper time to promote, which leads the industry need to apply the stage four ”Intermediate” from tourism disaster management framework.

There are always two sides of event that the eruption would also generate some potential positive impact. The world media keep update the news from Mt Ontake that generate awareness of this place for the worldwide. This leads an opportunity that if government could catch this chance to rebuild a positive destination image. Attention economy is concept proposed by Goldhaber in 1997 that He believes today’s society is a great wealth of information society and even flooding, accelerated the emergence of the Internet such a process, the information not only not a scarce resource, but is more scarce attention (Goldhaber, 1997). He also mentioned In the process of attention transaction into economic value, media is the main owner of attention since the media is base on the attention economy.

Recommendation (500words):

According to the discussion and analysis have done above, there are some recommendation for the following stage of recovery. Government should have policy support the local tourism and hospitality industry and rebuild infrastructure construction as soon as possible. Repair Mt Ontake religious center and the local government can hold a large worship event to attract people’s attention and improve people’s religious awareness of this place. Government should set a national project to academic study group of improve existing volcanic eruption warning technology. This could be done better in prevent stage of disaster and create a image that government put people’s safety at first. In the long-term recovery stage, the Government and the Tourism official needs to invest more to educate the public and tourists about the volcanic eruption knowledge. Government could organise an large volcanic eruption evacuation exercise for Japanese. In the long-term recovery stage, the Government needs to subsidize and support the surrounding villages to resume normal business to makes economic environment runs normal.

The government and local tourism industry also need to make media continued to focus on the recovery stage of Mt Ontake, so attention is converted to awareness of Mt Ontake is getting better, and presents a safe and comfortable destination image to the public. Build a volcanic memorial afterwards-1974, Tracy hurricane swept the regional capital of northern Australia, more than 70 people were killed, 20 people were left homeless, reconstruction work is very difficult. Now here is the most worth visiting Tracy hurricane exhibition was held in the northern part of the museum galleries, including a black house, which visitors can experience with Hurricane analog radios, improve the people for this type of disaster alertness.


In conclusion, this report discusses the impacts of volcanic eruption of Mt Ontake in Tourism industry and made some suggestion for the following recovery of Reconstruction process.

AFP-JIJI,2014, Could Fuji be the next volcano to blow?, The Japan Times, Viewed 20/10/2014, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/09/29/national/could-fuji-be-the-next-volcano-to-blow/#.VE1YmKXquOABlanke, J., & Chiesa, T. (2013). The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013. In The World Economic Forum.Faulkner, B 2001, ‘Towards a framework for tourism disaster management’, Tourism Management, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 135-147.Goldhaber, M. H. (1997). The attention economy and the net. First Monday, 2(4).JNTO-Japan National Tourism Organization, 2014, An active volcano that was a holy mountain and is decorated by jewel-toned lakes and a solemn fall season, Viewed 19/10/2014 http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/natuscen/mt-ontake.html Leah Watkins,2008, JAPANESE TRAVEL CULTURE: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE LINKS BETWEEN EARLY JAPANESE PILGRIMAGE AND MODERN JAPANESE TRAVEL BEHAVIOUR, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 10, 2 (December 2008): 93-110. Laws,E.,Faulkner,B.,&Moscardo,G.(1998). Embracing and managing change in tourism. London: Routledge. Nagano, 2014, Announcement About the Eruption of
Mt. Ontake, Nagano, Japan ,Nagano Pretecture official Tourism guide, viewed 21/10/2014 http://www.go-nagano.net/blog_p/?p=1053Santana, G.(2001). Global safety and national security. In S. Wahab, & C.Coop (Eds.), Tourism in the age of globalization (pp.213-241). London: Routledge. Sankei News, 2014, 御嶽山に一番乗りしたが…。空腹と重責、寒さ…。「読者にありのままを伝えられたか?」,Viewed 19/10/2014,http://www.sankei.com/affairs/news/141021/afr1410210041-n1.html Sönmez, S.F. & Graefe, A.R. (1998a) Influence of terrorism risk on foreign tourism decision. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(1), 112-144.Sönmez, S.F. & Graefe, A.R. (1998b). Determining future Travel Behaviour from Past Travel Experience and Perceptions of Risk and safety. Journal of Travel Research, 37(2), 171-176.Tribune, 2014, Could Fuji be the next?, Viewed 09/10/2014 http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro/author/67-afp?start=51

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