What’s in a Name? The Impact of Disasters on Islands’ Reputations: The cases of Giglio and Ustica

Disasters and their aftermath can leave an enduring, negative impact on the image of tourism destinations. This paper presents research conducted in relation to Giglio (site of the January 2011 Costa Concordia shipwreck) and Ustica (associated with the June 1980 crash of Itavia Flight 870) in order to study the impact of these two disasters on the tourism industry of these two small Italian islands. Methods employed include content analysis of articles published online and interviews with tourism stakeholders including operators, government officials and park managers. Findings suggest that disaster news coverage may initially have helped to increase the international visibility of both islands, however, even after several years, references made to the islands in the press continue to be related to such disasters. Little acknowledgement is made to the islands as tourism destinations or to the nature-based attractions that they offer. In this regard, a counter-engagement with the media and marketing efforts, including the use of social media platforms, is key to ensure that the enduring image of the islands is corrected and better reflects the characteristics of the islands.

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