As I sat down to write this week’s column, I realized that there is very little I can say as my heart hangs heavy for people all over the world that are affected by the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown/volcano in Japan. While many in the US feel that Japan is a half a world away and these events will have little impact on the “good ole US of A,” we know better.
For anyone who thinks that events half a world away have no impact on us, take a look at this video from the Santa Cruz Harbor near San Francisco. Less than 12 hours after tragedy struck Japan last week, a byproduct decimated a harbor in the US. Granted, it is not nearly as devastating but it illustrates how interconnected we truly are as a global society.
Far more than any other industry, travel professionals understand the concept globalism. While there may be vast differences in our cultures, in the end, we are one people and we need to stick together for the global good. If nothing else, the world is resilient. Japan, together with the help of nations across the world will eventually recover. The question that looms, is at what cost? We have survived natural disasters before—earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, disease, and famine. We have survived manmade disasters as well—Chernobyl, terrorism, and war. I have no doubt that on a global level, we will once again prevail.
The US State Department has just issued a warning for travel to Japan. Certainly with what is happening, this is a prudent (if not obvious) decision. As we also know, tourism is a huge driving force in any economy. We depend on it in the US, the Caribbean nations certainly depend on it. Europe, Africa, South America—you will be hard pressed to find any economy not dependent on tourism to a large extent. When Japan recovers from this disaster, it will be the responsibility of the tourism industry to pitch in and help by recommending that clients visit this vibrant and culture filled country. Sure it is self serving to a degree, but it will be a tangible, visible show of support as the beautiful people of Japan work to rebuild. We did it for New York after 911 and for New Orleans after Katrina. We are working with Haiti, will soon be helping Christchurch, and eventually Japan. And if you are still on the fence about the need, ask yourself how you would cope with this:
To make a financial contribution to relief efforts via the American Red Cross Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation and support their disaster relief efforts to help those affected in Japan and throughout the Pacific.