Community-Based Fire Management (CBFiM)
An Activity of the Global Wildland Fire Network

Wildland Fire and Tourism

A number of large fire situations in the last years in Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and North America have revealed the vulnerability of tourists and tourism facilities to the direct and indirect effects of wildland fires.

Fires burning under extreme weather conditions have repeatedly threatened camp grounds, national parks and other tourist resorts. Evacuations of tourists from fire-threatened recreation sites in the Mediterranean region and other places worldwide have caused great concern. Extended periods of smoke pollution have also negatively affected both local and visiting populations.

On the other side it has been observed that tourists are not always aware of the potential danger of becoming trapped by wildfires – or of being a source of wildfires due to negligent handling of barbecue fires or smoking.

At the last two “International Fairs for Alternative Travel” (Reisepavillon) in 2004 and 2005 – an event annually held in Hanover, Germany – a group of environmental and wildland fire specialists were invited by the Integrated Tourism Group TUI to reflect about the role and relationship of the tourism sector to the problem of forest fires and other wildland fires. 

A series of suggestions were made to focus the response to the situation with regard to the role of the tourism sector and tourists. It was pointed out that in the context of modern landscape development, tourism is often the strong sector that can help shape other sectoral developments. Although reconstruction of burnt areas is the responsibility of agricultural, forestry and conservation departments, the cross-cutting influence of the tourism sector can bring a valuable dynamic if done sensitively.

Emphasizing the concept of voluntary responsibility, it was proposed that actors in the tourism sector (tour operators, destination service providers and tourists) are asked to participate in the reconstruction efforts in each area. Among a number of measures it was suggested that a system can be established in which:

  • Visitors to the area are provided with destination-specific information on what happened and how the situation can be recovered.
  • They are asked to make a donation to support tree-planting schemes in the destinations that they visit.
  • Tourism stakeholder enterprises and institutions should collaborate with conservation bodies (public, NGOs) and local destination management authorities to develop a European-wide reconstruction project in the fire 

After first discussions in 2004 TUI and the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) agreed to produce and distribute a flyer “Like the Phoenix from the Ashes: Forest fires in the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions- natural environmental factor or ecological risk?” which is distributed to TUI tourists and also available one this GFMC website:

This flyer provides first hand information and „watch-out“ situations for tourists and encourages them to visit the GFMC website for wildland fire background information, recent fire events and fire disaster early warning.

GFMC and TUI have agreed to jointly utilize the wildland fire early warning capabilities that are in place in order to reduce threats and losses of tourists.

For emergency information TUI tourists may send an e-mail to the GFMC:

TUI websites:


GFMC Reports on Tourism and Fires – selected examples starting with the most recent events:

USA: A Tale of Two Tahoes: Tourists on Beaches; Elsewhere, Destruction (29 June 2007)

Indonesia: Eco-tourism At Risk in Indonesia (18 June 2007)

USA: Catalina Invites Tourists Back After Wildfire (4 June 2007)

Indonesia: ‘No easy solution’ to Indonesian haze woes (21 April 2007)

Australia: Bushfire areas reopen for long-weekend tourists (6 April 2007)

Thailand: Air quality in Chiang Mai improves (30 March 2007)

Australia: National park ravaged by bushfire (13 February 2007)

Australia: Planning laws fail to protect us from bushfire (7 February 2007)

Australia: Victoria’s Hermit Mt bushfire contained (31 January 2007)

Australia: Bracks pledges extra $4m for bushfire affected tourism (31 January 2007)

USA: Evacuations ordered for wildfire (27 August 2006)

France: Forest fire rages near French tourist mecca (15 August 2006)

France: Incendie: plus de 4.000 personnes évacuées dans le Var (14 August 2006)

Spain: Forest fires damage Stone Age paintings, carvings (12 August 2006)

Australia: Tourist lost escaping from bushfire (10 August 2006)

USA: Fire Not Deterring Hoodsport Tourists (5 August 2006)

USA: Grand Canyon North Rim closed to tourism, travel (30 June 2006) 

Australia: New ad campaign launched for Grampians tourism (19 June 2006)

Mexico: Forest fire damages Yucatan ruins in Mexico (15 May 2006)

Mexico: Incendios forestales amenazan a balneario mexicano de Cancún (30 April 2006)

Australia: Bushfire tourism only hope for Grampians (6 February 2006)

South Africa: Huge veld fires wreak havoc at top tourism spots (2 February 2006)

South Africa: Tourist held for starting blaze with cigarette (27 January 2006)

Malaysia: HAZE WATCH: Be prepared for return of the haze (19 August 2005)

Spain: At least 11 people killed at forest fire in central Spain (18 July 2005)

France: Incendie sur la Côte d’Azur: quelque 5.000 campeurs évacués (5 July 2005)

Peru: Incendio forestal pone en peligro complejo arqueológico de Machu Picchu (5 July 2005)

Chile: Tourists affected by forest fire in Torres del Paine National Park (February 2005) 

New Zealand: Bush blaze has tourists beating a retreat (January 2005)

Fire, smoke and tourists in Malaysia (June 2004)

Tourists affected by wildfires in Mediterranean Europe (August 2003)


France: Three tourist camping sites in the community of Agay were evacuated (July 2003)

Indonesia: World’s largest lizard and tourist sites get some help against fire destruction (February 2003)

Fire and smoke threatening Malaysia Grand Prix (March 2002)

Tourist sector threatened by bush and forest fires in Australia (January 2002)

U.S.A.: 17 hikers and backpackers in Washington were airlifted to safety (August 2001)

Third Memorandum and chronic of a catastrophic forest fire on Samos Island (Greece) (July 2000)

Forest fires in the U.S.A: Tourist sites closed (August 2000)


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