Big Picture

Doom leads to tourism boom

SIDOARJO (Indonesia) • Plodding around a vast field of mud that sits on top of a dozen submerged villages, tourists snap photographs of a volcano that is still spewing sludge nearly a decade after it erupted.

Stone sculptures of half-buried people and monuments commemorate the 2006 catastrophe that displaced tens of thousands of villagers, and transformed a landscape stretching across hundreds of hectares at the eastern end of Indo-nesia's Java Island.

Reports at the time put the death toll at around a dozen.

Disaster tourism has become increasingly common in Indonesia, where visitors are drawn to sites of earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions to witness the aftermath of catastrophes or simply do some soul-searching.

"I had watched a lot of the news on television, but I didn't expect that seeing it with my own eyes could give such a different impression," said tourist Wisnu Titik Kartiani at Sidoarjo's mudflow disaster site.

"If this is called tourism, I suppose this is tragic tourism."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'Doom leads to tourism boom'. Print Edition | Subscribe