International Tourism, Vulnerability, And Disaster Capitalism
Free (open access)
S. C. Stonich
Recently, Naomi Klein critiqued \“the rise of disaster capitalism,” an emerging orientation in international development institutions to exploit natural and human disasters in order to expedite the expansion of neoliberal capitalism. Klein identifies the promotion of high-end tourism as a principal means of advancing disaster capitalism. Based on ethnographic and survey research conducted in Honduras between 1980 and 2004, this paper uses the example of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 to assess the relevance of \“disaster capitalism” to describe disaster assistance in the aftermath of this \“natural” disaster. It focuses on the promotion of international tourism as a major economic development strategy during recovery and reconstruction. It examines the actions of, and the linkages among, the Honduran state (GOH), international donors, the private sector, and civil society organizations during this period. Hurricane Mitch in Honduras is an appropriate case to consider because it has been identified as the point at which disaster capitalism hit its stride; it has been 7 years since Mitch and several assessments of recovery and reconstruction efforts have been completed; and thus, lessons learned (and not learned) from the experiences of Hurricane Mitch can be applied to other cases. The paper concludes that although international tourism has been a major development strategy in Honduras before and since Hurricane Mitch, \“disaster capitalism” only partially captures the myriad processes and phenomenon involved. While international tourism has grown significantly in Honduras in recent years, the potential of international tourism to affect broad social and ecological transformations, reduce vulnerability, and enhance resilience, has not been realized. Keywords: disasters, tourism, Hurricane Mitch, disaster assistance, disaster capitalism, vulnerability, resilience, Honduras.
disasters, tourism, Hurricane Mitch, disaster assistance, disaster capitalism, vulnerability, resilience, Honduras.