Mitigating Disasters: Be Proactive Rather than Reactive
In March, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya announced that Indonesia would develop disaster mitigation technology for tourist destinations that meet the standards introduced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Undertaking the project is Hammam Riza, technology deputy for the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).
Riza says the agency will implement early warning systems at tourist destinations that may be affected by disasters: “The BPPT has developed technology for an early warning system and prevention for hydro meteorological disasters like flooding and landslides, as well as geological disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.”
According to Tiffany Misrahi, Community Lead, Travel & Tourism Industries at the World Economic Forum, getting ahead of a potential disaster with early warning systems is key: “Given the impact of natural disasters in terms of lives lost, damaged infrastructure and economic loss, it is clear that society must tackle these challenges head on.”
How quickly they recover, she says, depends on the country’s ability to manage the crisis both from a security and a PR perspective. Rather than managing crises in a reactive way, countries prone to natural disasters should consider ways to be more proactive, and look at how to implement the right measures to avoid them. This presents great opportunities for the Indonesian tourism industry and policymakers to develop solutions to enhance security while enabling seamless travel.
To do this, countries like Indonesia, which has had its share of natural disasters, should not only enhance the current framework in which it operates, but also come up with innovative solutions and new models for travel.
But it’s not just tropical Indonesia that is underway with a framework to protect its visitors from natural calamities. Japan is currently preparing for its 2020 Summer Games with plans to strengthen measures to help foreign visitors in the event of an earthquake in the Tokyo area. And it’s not just through enhanced technology and infrastructure, but plain old PR and communications.
As reported in the Nikkei Asian Review, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is planning to enrich the content of its existing “Disaster Prevention Portal” website, set up last year to prepare for the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo Metropolitan Government also provides a disaster manual with information, including survival tips.
The website was launched to prepare for earthquakes in Tokyo, and targets both domestic and foreign visitors. The ministry is now trying to expand the scope of the portal to other types of disaster, other areas and to lifeline information.
In Tokyo, there is a detailed "Disaster Preparedness Tokyo" manual that shares information, including evacuation flows and how to prepare for disasters at home. It also explains several key "survival tips".
Like the Tokyo manual, there are some resources provided by local municipalities for foreigners. The problem, however, is that too few tourists are aware of them.