PREVENTIVE DISASTER MANAGEMENT MEASURES IN DEALING WITH TSUNAMI AS A RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

ABSTRACT

Tsunami is one of the impact resulted from climate change. The impact of tsunami is so huge to the environment including to the sustainability of tourism industry. This paper presents an overview of literature that discuss with the preventive measures in response to the disaster. Previous studies have drawn up several preventive measures to deal with the situation. Preventive measures include providing a standard safety and security measures and increasing the awareness of the stakeholders. The preventive measure is just a theoretical overview; however it can be consideration to be implemented for destination which is lacking such measures. Hopefully the up-coming disaster can be handled better. So the sustainability of tourism industry is well sustained.

 

Keywords: Disaster management, tsunami, and preventive measures

 

INTRODUCTION

Climate change has become a crucial issue discussed in forums and main agenda to deal with. It is because the impact is so detrimental to human lives. Some disastrous events as the impact of climate change have occurred recently. Take a look on an example on the tsunami that stroke Japan recently. It had killed thousands of lives and destroyed many homes. In 2006, tsunami also had devastated some regions in Asia, like in Aceh and Thailand. The disaster had a tremendous impact on many aspects including tourism sector. Issue of safety formed a strong reason on people for not going to places they intend to visit. The number of tourists’ arrival to the devastated area declined sharply and brought a decline also to the neighboring countries. The disastrous event had destroyed tourism facilities and infrastructure, making tourism industry went sinking to bottom. Tsunami as one of the impacts resulted from climate change is not a simple case. It is a big problem especially to small island countries to deal with. In the past, tsunami and other similar disasters caused by climate change may have been unknown, but today these environmental disasters are usual things in people lives. Even scientist predicts that more quakes,    volcanic eruptions, giant landslides and tsunami may become more frequent due to climate change.

Ecotourism in small islands is definitely the one that is directly affected of the disasters. Ecotourism which product is the pristine of the natural ecosystem is easily threatened by the disasters. Tsunami wave would destruct the underwater ecosystem and the land surface. Another effect of climate change is the increase of sea water and warmer temperature that will also destruct the underwater ecosystem, especially coral reef. Moreover is the threat of volcanic eruptions. The impact of climate change is devastating not only to environment but to the lives of people especially. The locals and tourists lives are easily threatened too by the disasters. Therefore strategic management efforts should be done to deal with such cases.

In order to prepare from the occurrence of natural disaster, it is essential for a destination to have prevention measures for emergency.  The prevention measures can be in a form of availability of emergency services (Gunawan, M.P: 2003). In addition, at the destination (ISO-20712: 2008) mentioned that it is necessary to have water safety signs which include: escape and emergency equipment signs, mandatory action signs, prohibition and warning signs. Providing such safety service standard is compulsory.

Kepulauan Seribu, located to the north the capital city of Indonesia is aimed for eco-marine tourism. There are many activities that tourists can do. They can enjoy many activities such as diving, snorkeling, sightseeing, marine biodiversity observation including mangrove, turtle, fish, and reefs. Besides that, they can also explore the culture of the people living in the islands.

There are several reasons that safety and security need to be considered by the tour operator, resort management and developer in the islands. First, Kepulauan are located in an open sea; it makes the islands easily affected by natural disturbances. Raharjo (2007) reported that severe tidal wave had eliminated several islands in Kepulauan Seribu. Global warming and irresponsible human activities also contributed to the lost of the islands. The natural disturbances might become threats to the safety of the tourists and the sustainability of tourism in the destination. In addition, the location is also near to the active volcanic mountain, the Krakatau. The islands should be equipped with equipment that can anticipate in case natural disturbances occur and guarantee the safety of the tourists.

In 2008, the author conducted a study on tourists’ perception of safety and security in Kepuluauan Seribu (a case study in Pramuka Island) involving 100 respondents which are local tourists. The study included tourists’ perceptions of safety service standard for the prevention of natural disasters. The study found out several things:

  1. Tourists considered safety and security as a very important thing.
  2. Natural disaster such as tsunami had greater effect on their decision to re visit than issue of terrorism.
  3. Tourists aware that evacuation sign was not available in the island, and they did not read any safety sign and warnings. However, tourists acknowledged that the location of emergency facilities such as hospital and police station was easily located.
  4. Tourists in overall perceived that safety and security in the island as ‘fairly’ safe. Tourists perceive that the availability of evacuation sign for natural disaster is almost fair and warning sign for dangerous areas are nearly fair (1=bad, 2=poor,3=fair,4=good,5=very good).
  5. However, when the tourists were asked about their intention to revisit and recommend Sepulauan Seribu, they would recommend to their friends and relatives and revisit the island in the future.

The study is interesting to note. It shows that despite the fact that the safety and security standard service in the destination is low, it does not affect their decision to visit in the future or recommend to others. They still feel that service standard especially in terms of preparation for natural disaster is lacking and not enough.

A study conducted in Thailand, Bongkosh (2006) stated that after the there was a tsunami tragedy mentioned the importance of having a warning system installed in hotels and destinations that can give an early warning to tourists for when the tragedy occurred. The study suggested that Government must cooperate with national and international governing bodies in sharing information to tourists and increase the safety and security measures at the locations. It is important to put safety and security as the first priority in promoting tourism.

The previous studies imply that the provision of safety and security measures in Kepulauan Seribu is not close to the standard yet. And therefore in order to prepare for disasters to occur in the future it is necessary to meet the level of safety standard. Tourists may have not aware on how the safety standard should apply but this is the responsibility for the tourism management in providing safety measures.

This paper is going to discuss the implications from the previous studies regarding the safety and security measures. The questions which are going to answer in this study involve:

  1. What kinds of an ideal safety and security measures for tourism destination need to be prepared in case of the event of natural disasters occur?
  2. What should be done to increase the level of the stakeholder’s awareness on safety and security in response to natural disaster?

In order to answer the questions, a library research is conducted. Previous studies related to safety and security measures are analyzed and presented descriptively. Previous studies are useful as an input for decision making for preparing for the upcoming unexpected events such as natural disasters.

 

THE ROLE OF TOURISM INDUSTRY

Safety and security are very important in human’s life. According to Maslow, individual has several needs, and the fulfillments of the needs are necessary. Maslow listed safety-freedom from fear and anxiety is the second of human needs hierarchy after physiological needs which include hunger, rest and activities. And the hierarchy is next followed by belonging of love, esteem, and self actualization. It is clear that to feel safe is the basic need of human’s life.

Now many disasters occur giving an impact on tourism. Tourism industry which greatly affected by disasters has a big role in adapting the situation.  Tourism industry has two fundamental roles in the management of disaster risk (APEC, 2006).

  1. As a partner as a government and community agencies in the development of multi-agency, coordinated disaster management plans, systems, procedures and processes which include the needs of tourism.

The example takes place in Barbados where the ministry of tourism and the tourism industry alliance form a committee for disaster management planning and coordination committee. So when the disaster occurred, the committee coordinates with the central government in mitigating the disaster.

 

  1. As a partner in developing plans and procedures appropriate to a destination and to a specific roles and responsibilities of a business of a business to train personnel to use those plans and conduct regular tests of plans, procedures, and personnel with subsequent amendment and adapting

In Barbados island, the tourism industry alliance works together to develop a disaster management plan and procedures. They provide an input to the central government which can be incorporated to national disaster management plan.

It is clear that initiatives from tourism industry may be very helpful in dealing with the disaster problems.

 

DISASTER MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

The process of disaster management involves several phase: before the occurrence of the disaster, when it occurs, and post disaster or recovery. Many handbook have written the steps and measures should be done in order to deal with the situation. This paper presents several measures to answer  the first question rise in this paper is what should be prepared in order to prepare for the disaster in order to minimize victims in tourism destination, in this case is tourists as the victims (WTO:1996).

  1. The provision of information

Tourists receive information on a destination from a great many sources prior to and during the trip. So there are potentially a number of points at which safety and security information can be included in current tourist product and sales information.

The responsibility for providing information on tourists’ safety and security is shared by international agencies government and public authorities and by private tourist product suppliers. Government bodies and international agencies provide information on potential disruptions to tourism including natural disasters.

Below is the example of travel guide in Australia. It mentions information about natural disasters that occur in Australia. It also mentions what to do when it happens, safety map and an emergency phone number. Another kind of information can be given to tourists in the form of brochure or information flyers in transportation, hotels, tour operators, and travel agent.

Clearly indicating and warning against visiting dangerous zones can be a measure to be considered at destinations to save visitors from trouble.

  1. First Aid, Emergency service and hotline

Should an emergency occur to a tourist while visiting an a area a system which instruct tourists on how to get first aid and emergency service hotline for tourists should help mitigate the effects of emergency. The system could be a list of emergency numbers posted on the telephone in the tourist’s hotel room, or in the glove compartment of a rental car, posted in public telephone booth or included in maps and guide brochure at the destination.

Tourists need more care and assistance than residents because of their difficulties of communication and unfamiliarity with the local custom, the short duration of their stay at the destination and the limited possibilities to exercise their rights. This applies to:

–          Emergency medical assistance (first-aid) and the care of dependent accompanying persons such as minors;

–          Ancillary services  such as interpretation, information and advice

–          Assistance to file prosecute offenses against the person or the belongings to tourists;

–          Assistance in contacting information insurance companies, credit card companies and banks

–          Telephone service with access to the international network to facilitate contacts with the victim’s country and family

–          Consumer protection

–          Assistance in contacting diplomatic and consular representatives

–          Repatriation

The most important is first aid medical service; including emergency hospitalization should be available at tourist destination to visitor and residents alike. Such services can be according to normal local practice, free of charge by health insurance or other arrangement such as through bilateral social security arrangements. Visitors should be notified before hand of the existence and modalities of such services at the destination. This will enhance the safety image.

  1. Verbal warning system

The dissemination of warning messages is critical in the event of the disaster. Tourists may not have mobile phones, few may have a radio. It is a good idea to provide warning devices such as whistles, bull horns, and sirens. The warning system appeared to be useful as once applied by a ten year old Tilly Smith who saved a hundred fellow tourists from tsunami because of geography lessons about the giant waves. Tilly sounded an alarm and urged her family and others to get of the Maikhao beach in Thailand.

  1. Building design of hotel and other tourism facilities

It is necessary also to build hotel and tourism facilities in a safe environment that are adaptive to disaster or can minimize the negative impact as possible. The Indian ocean tsunami of 2004 demonstrated how tourism industry despite its technological advances and it’s sophisticated buildings method turned out to be the most vulnerable sector located in the coast (Garcia et al, 2006). For example, it was observed that due to the demand of the scenery rather than safety, the tourist trade was the least environmentally sustainable form of human settlement on the coast of Thailand and the least integrated into the natural ecology. A glaring example of this was the fact that although resorts and hotels were built at the lowest lying areas for the convenience of beach access, such areas to be most prone to wave during flooding. Therefore careful consideration should be made in building hotel and tourism facilities.

In addition, internal interior in hotel especially should be considered too, such as determining the location of communication center, back-up power generator, safety deposit box, and offices. The use of glass and easily detachable items of furniture and decorations should be minimized at public areas and emergency escape. Fire safety information showing emergency exits, escape routes, location of fire alarms and exit instruction – as well as basic fire safety advice – should be available in every room as well as posted in public areas.

  1. Trained staffs and communities

Besides having all the preventive equipments, the train and the communities should receive training when the disaster occurs. The staffs and the communities have the responsibilities on the safety of the guests therefore they must be trained so they can save their lives and the tourists that come to their area. They need to be knowledgeable and ready for the disaster. Practice through simulation games, table top exercise, practicum and observation can be done in preparation for the disaster.

IMPROVING STAKEHOLDERS’ AWARENESS ABOUT SAFETY AND SECURITY

Tourists may not understand the level of safety standard that a destination must have or they may not understand what to do when an emergency situation like tsunami occurs. It is the obligation of the management to make tourists aware of danger of such situation and make them ready to deal with the situations. There are several things that can be done to increase the level of awareness:

  1. Producing toolkit for media, education and tourists communities

A brochure telling about the danger of the event and how to response to the situation can be distributed to hotel and tourists attraction. Education program to schools about tsunami and how to response can also increase the awareness. This education program will give school children knowledge about the disaster which will be useful for them when they take part as decision maker or as tourists.

  1. Training and workshop for the government and tourism management

Since the government and tourism management are the ones who have primary responsibility to take care the lives of the tourists and sometimes the government or tourism management do not aware of the importance of providing a standard safety measures. It is dangerous if it is so. Therefore in order to increase their level of awareness, training and workshop needs to be taken. Inviting a consultant, collaboration with organizations in the area or review on the disaster that had occurred might help the government in making an effective disaster management plan.

CONCLUSION

Natural disaster like the tsunami occurs very suddenly and need a quick response. With preparation, the impacts can be minimized. Events that have occurred in the past, give lessons on how to be responsive for the upcoming disaster. Disaster is something which people least want, however since the environment has changed it changes the way people perceive about their environment. The environment is not as friendly as before. People need to be more aware of their environment prepare for the worst event.

Several prevention measures like increasing the level of awareness and providing a safety and security measures are intended to help minimize the impacts. The preventive measures are based on previous studies and hopefully can be useful as an input for future plan in designing a disaster management plan especially to the small islands area which is lacking such measures.

 

REFERENCES

 

ACS (2007).  Tourists Safety and Security in the Coastal Zones of Greater Caribbean. ACS High Level Conference on Disaster Reduction. Haiti, November 14th – 16th,2007. www.acs-aec.org

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). 2006. Tourism Risk Management, An Authoritative Guide to Managing Crises in Tourism, A Report prepared by APEC International Centre for Sustainable Tourism (AICST). APEC Secretariat, Singapore.

Bongkosh NR (2006). Tsunami Recovery:  A Case study of Thailand Tourism. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Quarterly 47; 390. Sage Publication

Garcia, R., Siu-Yu Lau, S., Chau, K.W., Kanitpun, R., Shimatsu, Y., Grunder, P., Koo, R. 2006. Sustainable Resorts: Learning from the 2004 Tsunami. Disaster Prevention and Management, Volume 15, No. 3, 2006, pp. 429-447.

Guam Homeland Security. (2009). Guam Tsunami Program. http://www.guamhs.org

Rina Kurniawati (2008). Tourists Perception of Safety and Security in Kepulauan Seribu (A Case Study of Pulau Pramuka). Thesis. Sekolah Pasca sarjana Universitas Sahid Jakarta

WTO (1996) Tourists Safety and Security – Practical Measure for Destination. Madrid Spain