Do Earthquakes & Tsunami Risks Affect People's Travel Choices?

California Coast-Living along an earthquake fault zone, we sometimes feel modest shakers that remind us of our vulnerability. Oddly, tourists who visit California say they want to experience an earthquake on their trip.

"Travel is about adventure," said Jessica Marks, a California tourist who said she wants to experience an earthquake on her vacation. "Of course I don't want to be in something as bad as Japan, but a little earthquake would be great to tell all my friends about."

For those thinking of visiting Japan, the official Japanese tourist information site suggests this week that you read the newspapers for information to make choices, especially in travel to Northeastern Japan. Links to embassies, earthquake and disaster websites are provided.

When you visit California's tourism web sites you will see very little mention of natural disasters. Earthquakes are facts of life in the region, much like rainstorms and other nature-related events. While most would not want to be visiting a place when major catastrophes occur, the threat of nature-related events is one of the least likely factors to keep travelers from planning a trip. Some of the top concerns that influence travel decisions beyond beautiful beaches, majestic mountains and expense, are government stability and visitor safety, minus crime.

Just south of the U.S. border and San Diego in Mexico are similar beautiful beaches and better values in everything from gourmet food to medicine, medical care and quality gifts. However, the once thriving tourism trade in Baja Mexico has suffered because of reports of kidnappings, shootings and other such dangers caused by humans.

Natural disasters are less likely to influence travel decisions in the long run because humans have a tendency to forget, and they also consider such events as isolated, one-time occurrences. However, tourists generally do their homework and stay away from disaster - stricken destinations such as New Orleans till they are assured that these desirable places have been "fixed" and still provide the entertainment value that made them so popular in the first place.

While the Shendai, Japan earthquake disaster is still unfolding and the Japanese stock market is tumbling by percentage points daily, the long term impacts as regions try to bounce back can affect the tourist trade and economy for a decade. If a similar disaster occurred in California from a tsunami, the state's major airports located near the Pacific Ocean in fairly low-lying areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego could be shut down, depending on the circumstances. That, alone would cripple tourism.

California's number one asset, its beaches and resorts, could likewise, take years to rebuild.

While the State of California grapples with issues such as selling off its fairgrounds, closing state parks temporarily, and meeting budgets, the likelihood of moving toward making California's major airports and beaches less prone to economic collapse in the predicted, overdue Big One (earthquake) that could cause a tsunami, is not looking promising right now.

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