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Volcano Tourism – Thrill or Fatal Attraction

Volcano Tourism - Thrill or Fatal Attraction

Iceland, a Nordic island country, is often referred to as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’. This is due to its unique geographical features, which include glaciers and volcanoes. 1 of these volcanoes has been causing thousands of earthquakes in recent weeks, leading to residents fleeing the region. However, this has not deterred tourists. In fact, it has attracted them. This has given rise to a bizarre travel trend – Volcano Tourism.

The Allure of Volcano Tourism

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active places on Earth. This has led to the country capitalizing on this trend. Their volcanoes attract hundreds of thousands of tourists. This hot trend is catching on, with countries like Japan, Hawaii, Italy, New Zealand, and others also erupting with volcano tourism.

Volcano Tourism - Thrill or Fatal Attraction

One of the volcanoes that has been thrust into the limelight is the 8,000-year-old Eyjafjallajökull. Standing tall in Southwest Iceland, it famously sent a plume of ash about 9 km up into the sky in 2010. This caused havoc on Europe’s airways, with about 100,000 flights being cancelled. However, instead of gaining bad press, the volcano became an instant hit. Its name was a tongue twister on every news channel, but most of all, it set Iceland’s tourism industry on fire.

Volcano Tourism - Thrill or Fatal Attraction

The Thrill of Volcano Tourism

Adventurers from all over the world fly to Iceland just to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing lava. Many people click pictures and toast marshmallows over the lava. But adrenaline junkies go a step further. They bike, hike, abseil, or board across active volcanoes. In 2021, the eruption at Fagradalsfjall attracted over 350,000 tourists. Tourists are provided regular updates about eruption sites and are also given safety instructions. Travel agents set up specialized volcano tours. It’s clear that Iceland has turned its lemons into lemonade by turning natural disasters into a booming industry.

 

The Risks of Volcano Tourism

However, the question remains – is volcano tourism just the thrill of a lifetime or a fatal attraction? Is it safe to visit volcanoes and hop, jump, and step over them? Experts don’t think so. They say not all eruptions are tourist-friendly. Safety depends on both accessibility and the type of eruption, and this knowledge is sometimes not vastly available. Some volcanic locations are volatile. Volcanoes have also repeatedly destroyed infrastructure and eruptions often produce poisonous gases like sulfur dioxide, which can cause lung damage and even death. Between 2010 and 2020, at least 1,143 people died in volcanic explosions. In 2019, a famous volcano in New Zealand, Whakaari, erupted, killing 22 tourists and injuring dozens of others.

Volcano Tourism - Thrill or Fatal Attraction

Conclusion

Volcano tourism can indeed be the thrill of a lifetime. However, it’s important to remember that it involves playing with fire. While the allure of a fiery volcanic Instagram picture or an interesting post-vacation story may be tempting, the potential risks should not be overlooked. As the saying goes, “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” Therefore, it’s crucial to stay informed and prioritize safety when embarking on such adventures.

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