The AH1N1 Influenza crisis in Mexico: A critique of contemporary tourism crisis and disaster management models and frameworks

Speakman, Mark K (2010) The AH1N1 Influenza crisis in Mexico: A critique of contemporary tourism crisis and disaster management models and frameworks. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Tourism experts appear to agree that at some point in time each individual tourism destination will eventually encounter disruption, in the form of a crisis or a disaster. The subsequent negative impacts will threaten the destination’s stability and immediate future. Crisis management models and frameworks are provided to assist tourism managers to prepare and cope with this apparent inevitability; however, it seems that these models are somewhat flawed in that they display several weaknesses and limitations; that is, certain important issues appear to have been neglected during their construction. Such concerns relate to the unpredictability of tourism crises and disasters, the rigid, prescriptive nature of the models, the cultural context of crises, and certain realities affecting small tourism businesses. The possibilities which could arise from the application of chaos theory are also overlooked, in favour of a traditional, pedantic approach which perhaps stifles innovation.
The AH1N1 Influenza crisis, which afflicted Mexico in 2009, provides a useful case study with which to conduct a qualitative investigation openly challenging contemporary tourism crisis management theory. Furthermore, it offers an opportunity to apply an alternative tourism crisis management model based on chaos theory. A series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key players from the Mexican tourism industry along with an analysis of government and media documentation. The process served to substantiate the doubts cast regarding the restrictions associated with contemporary models, as the flaws referred to above were apparent throughout the crisis. On a more positive note, also noticeable were various elements of chaos theory, whose recognition can serve to generate alternative tourism crisis management strategies which are perhaps more suitable and effective to the situation at hand. It is suggested that this empirical study utilising chaos theory, the first of its kind concerning a tourism destination, be used as the springboard for further research into the possibilities offered by chaos theory to the management of tourism crises and disasters.

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