Developing a Code of Ethics for Disaster Tourism

November 2009 (VOL. 27, NO. 3)

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This paper provides a first discussion of the advantages and concerns of disaster tourism along with an initial step towards a code of ethics. Based on existing disaster and tourism codes, four guidelines are suggested and critiqued: 1. Priority in disasters should be given to the safety of disaster-affected people and responders, encompassing rescue and body recovery operations. 2. One individual should not put another individual at increased risk without consent. 3. The authorities in a disaster-affected area and their rules and regulations should be obeyed within reason. 4. Any donations or assistance offered to disaster-affected areas should be considered within the local context and should also involve nearby but non-disaster-affected communities. Targets, training, monitoring, enforcement, and evaluation for the code are also discussed along with the need for consultative processes for further developing and implementing the code. Three main areas of disaster tourism research are proposed for further work: disaster recovery, convergence behaviour, and supporting disaster risk reduction rather than post-disaster actions.