Volcano tourism is growing popularly as more people are interested in exploring unique natural areas and at the same time study the geologic heritage. With over 1500 active volcanoes worldwide, for many regions volcano tourism represents a welcome economic advantage.
It began in 1991, pouring into the streets of Hawaii, igniting homes and burying everything in a layer of thick volcanic rock. The lava flow became a major tourist attraction, pulling hundreds of visitor a day . Residents began running tours by boats, bicycle and offroad vehicles. Vendors set up food stand.
Both dormant and active volcanoes attract millions of visitors per year around the world. Many of these volcanic sites are situated in developing countries, providing local communities with a unique opportunity. Within volcano tourism, there are various types of trips. Some travellers stick to relatively light activities such as sightseeing, hiking, mountain biking and camping. Others are looking for more intense activities such as mountaineering or volcano boarding. The real thrill-seekers can even join special eruption tours to witness a volcano in action – a unique experience.
While a new piece of research argues that fascination with erupting volcanoes is putting lives at risk, others say “volcano tourism” need not be dangerous if travelers stick to some basic rules.
Avoid reckless attempt of going dangerously close to the erupting volcanoes. For a tour operator, it is important to be aware of that danger, to know the emergency plans and how to act in the case of an emergency event. Pay attention to what the authorities are saying. Volcanoes are one of the forces of nature that truly are beyond human power to control, but Volcano tourism is not a new phenomenon – people have travelled to active volcanoes for many centuries. Following are the few that tops the list.
Kīlauea is the daddy of accessible active volcanoes and receives nearly three million visitors a year. At 1,247m it’s not even the tallest volcano on Hawaii but it has been emitting huge quantities of deep crimson, slow-moving lava almost continuously since 1983.
Fortunately for visitors, catastrophic explosions are not Kīlauea’s style – beautiful lava fountains are.