This study examines the relationship between natural disasters and natural resource based tourism. Natural disasters are a basic part of the workings of nature and therefore, will always be with us. The tourism industry contributes enormously to the U.S. economy. Regardless of their reasons for traveling, tourists spend money. Natural disasters and tourism are two elements that play significant roles in the world today and will continue to in the future. This study addresses the question of what happens when these two elements intersect. It was assumed that natural disasters and tourism are on opposite sides of the spectrum and therefore, are mutually exclusive rather than complementary. This study is interested in determining if it's possible for these two elements to share a complementary relationship. Attention is focused on two relatively recent natural disasters that have occurred in the United States the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens and the 1988 wildfires of Yellowstone National Park. Natural-resource based destinations are examined because it was assumed that the possibility of a positive relationship existing would be greater in rural, low-density population centers. The main issue addressed is whether the natural disasters of Mount Saint Helens and Yellowstone National Park influenced the decisions of vacationers to visit these destinations. Secondary issues are; what can be learned from the tourism officials, directors, planners, and, businesses in Mount Saint Helens and Yellowstone in their efforts to deal with the aftermath of each disaster, and secondly, what role did the media play in their coverage of a natural disaster. To address these issues, three approaches were undertaken extensive library research, interviews of knowledgeable experts and representatives of each area, and review of extensive secondary data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Tourism--Washington (State)--Saint Helens, Mount; Tourism--Yellowstone National Park; Natural disasters--West (U.S.)

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Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Food, Hotel and Tourism Management (CAST)


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Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: G155.A1 B42 1992


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