Some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations — Turkey, Greece, Hawaii and, now, Morocco — have been ravaged by disaster this year, with earthquakes, wildfires and floods razing entire towns and villages, killing residents, and destroying or damaging cultural monuments.
The series of catastrophic events has left many tourists in a conundrum over how to respond. Those already in a country in the wake of a disaster debate whether they should stay or leave. Those with upcoming trips wonder if they should cancel. Can they and the revenue they bring in be of any real help, or will they be a burden? How appropriate is it to let tourism go on while a nation is in a state of collective mourning and rescue efforts are under way?
There are no easy answers, travel experts say. Each disaster’s impact is unique, and while travelers are advised to follow the guidance of government officials in the aftermath of such events, local communities don’t always agree on the best course of action. After the Maui wildfires destroyed much of the town of Lahaina in August, killing at least 115 people, residents on the island, which depends on tourist dollars, clashed over the decision to allow tourism to continue while locals grieved for all that was lost.