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Lava in Spain Spews Open Tourism Criticism


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A Tourist Island Ravaged by Lava, & Leaders Censured

Off the coast of Morocco devastation strikes. Lava spewed hundreds of feet into the air in La Palma, Spain, the Canary Islands. Silent for 50 years, the volcanic activity was not expected, but no surprise. The Earth did warn the residents with thousands of tremors over a week. The blast even followed a 4.2-magnitude quake on the western sloping ridge of Cabeza de Vaca. But who is ever prepared emotionally for an eruption? Tourists certainly didn’t plan for such an event. “It was horrible,” said Eva to Reuters reporters, a 53-year-old tourist from Austria. “We felt the earthquake, it started in the morning. Then at 3 in the afternoon the lady from our house came and said you have to pack everything and leave quickly.” However, Spain’s leaders are encouraging open tourism.

Keeping Tourism Foolish or Effective?

Shouldn’t the immediate safety of others outweigh fiscal worry?  Even though it is an elected official’s mindset to protect the future of their country encouraging tourism seems irresponsible. I can’t imagine their stress. The damage of the volcano only compounds the fiscal loss. Lava devoured 100 homes and forced 5,500 people to evacuate. 500 were tourists forced out of their hotels and 360 evacuated to anoher island).  According to Reuters, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said, “‘The island is open. If your hotel is affected, we will find you another one,’” she [emphasized] security is reinforced, [and] tourists would be able to continue enjoying the island.” Is she doing her job effectively or being foolish? Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also emphasized tourism in the islands should remain open. However, “The flow of molten rock is expected to reach the coast Monday evening, potentially triggering more explosions, and the volcano itself will remain active for days,” (Reuters). The Canaries Volcanology Institute said, “when the lava reaches the sea, it could create a cloud of toxic gases as the molten rock cools rapidly” ( Yikes!

A Different Perspective on Open Tourism

I can’t help but wonder if criticizing these leaders for speaking to the fiscal needs of their country is unfair. “In the country of a stupid nation, the nation works for the politician’s pocket. In the country of a wise nation, the politician works for the pocket of the nation!” (Mehmet Murat ildan). At first glance it seems irresponsible to encourage others to stay when mortality is at risk. Perhaps we should be a little less critical. These national officials are only looking out for the country’s best interest. An island that survives on tourism needs people on holiday. Reyes was only being positive.

“When fate gives you a lemon, make lemonade,” Dale Carnegie.

Her people lost 100 of their homes, they don’t need to lose their income as well. In lieu of lava she is making lemonade. We don’t need to blame and criticize leaders for doing their job. We’re not talking about laws punishable by death here. (Well death is still on the table. It is molten lava—2000° Fahrenheit). Tourists generally aren’t children. Travelers should decide for themselves what they are comfortable risking. People have brains and can make educated decisions for their safety.  Personally, seeing lava in real life, sounds awesome. It is raw power like a tsunami, or hurricane.  I get the excitement. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, my rational moved that type of event on my bucket list to the bottom where mortality is no longer a concern. I mean—last resort, dying wish level of concern. But, if lava is on your list of things to see, then by all means, book a ticket. After all, “tourism is still open” in the Canary Islands. Before you go, check out this Australian news video of the lava first. WATCH!

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