It is difficult for us to come to grips with a natural disaster as
deadly and destructive as the massive earthquake in Turkey that
some observers think may have killed upward of 35,000 persons and
inflicted $35 billion in damage on the country's economy.
When those of us in travel confront catastrophe, it is often the
calamitous consequence of a powerful hurricane that leaves us
humbled in the wake of a rampaging and seemingly callous Mother
But consider the following numbers when attempting to put the
tragic events in Turkey in perspective:In 1969, Hurricane Camille, considered one of the most deadly
storms ever to hit the U.S., was responsible for 258 deaths and
$1.42 billion in damage.In 1989, 60 persons died as a result of Hurricane Hugo, which
hammered the West Indies and the southeastern U.S. at a cost of $7
Even more telling are the mortality figures for earthquakes
published by the National Earthquake Center of the U.S. Geological
According to the center, a total of 8,928 persons were killed in
all the world's earthquakes last year, a shockingly high number but
one that pales in comparison to an ungodly death toll that still
grows by the hour in northern Turkey.
Of course, we are grateful that hotels and historic tourism
sites in Istanbul and other major cities appear to have survived
relatively unscathed. And we are grateful, too, that few Americans
lost their lives in the disaster.
But mourning the dead and celebrating the survivors are not
enough. It seems to us that all who prosper from selling travel to
places like Turkey -- agents, operators, airlines, hoteliers,
cruise lines, the trade press -- should immediately set about
raising funds for the numerous agencies mobilizing to bring aid and
comfort to the devastated region.
It is the least we can -- and should -- do.