Go. Or, rather, come. Please.
By vacationing in areas that were affected by the tsunami, you can directly help the economy recover from the devastation. Yes, you can also donate money to charities, and that will be appreciated, but that will take the areas only so far.
Industry needs to be rebuilt, and the best way to do that is through doing business as usual, which includes tourism.
My brother Tony sent me the following article,found here.
Should would-be visitors steer clear out of respect for the estimated 150,000 victims, or help rebuild economies by spending money at the scene?
"Nobody is making light of the huge human cost of the disaster (or) suggesting we should go and get in the way of the clean-up. But for many in the developing world, no tourists this morning can mean no food on the table tonight," says Lonely Planet guidebooks co-founder Tony Wheeler, writing in London’s Independent newspaper.
"We can all dig into our pockets to contribute money to relief efforts. But in the longer term the best thing we can do is, simply, go there."
The president of the Bangkok-based Pacific Asia Travel Association, Peter de Jong, said in a recent appeal to travelers, "If you have not planned a visit, please consider booking a trip. If you wish to make a difference, visit."
But in Sri Lanka, which recorded one of the highest death tolls, the prospect of tourists returning to damaged coastal areas is "something of a double-edged sword," says Sri Lanka-born Varini De Silva, owner of the tour company Ceylon Express International.
"On the one hand," De Silva says, "we have to get the country moving again, and tourism affects every strata of society. On the other, (Sri Lanka) is in mourning … it’s a place of sadness, death and horror."
Geoffrey Lipman, president of the International Council of Tourism Partners and special adviser to the World Tourism Organization, said his organization is trying to "encourage people to focus on how tourism can help. For most of these countries, tourism is one of the principal exports. For countries like the Maldives and Sri Lanka, it’s been a way to attack poverty."
The Maldives: The island nation was inundated by the Dec. 26 disaster, but 64 out of 87 resorts are still in business, said Ahmed Shaheed, government spokesman for the Maldives, where the $200 million tourism industry constitutes 33 percent of the country’s gross national product. Occupancy rates that are usually near 100 percent are down by half, he said.
The islands suffered 82 deaths with 26 people missing, but resorts suffered far less than outlying villages.
Sri Lanka: The tsunami damaged 56 hotels badly enough to force their closure. Yet 243 remain open and "ready to welcome tourists," said Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, CEO of hotel chain Jetwing Eco Holidays.