Madeira Island: Tourism, Natural Disasters and Destination Image

  • António Manuel Martins de AlmeidaEmail author
  • Luiz Pinto Machado
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


There is no doubt that globalization and technology have in recent years been responsible for the economic and social progress of the four corners of the world. Tourism has also been “affected” by these phenomena and is generally referred to as the greatest expression of globalization. Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries. This growth goes hand in hand with an increasing diversification and competition among destinations (UNWTO). In the service area, tourism distinguishes itself as the main industry for technological use and innovation. But as tourism grows, climate risks increase. Storms, hurricanes, torrents of water, earthquakes and general natural disasters arrive without warning!

Last decade can be remembered for the multiplicity of negative events including natural disasters, terrorist attacks and bird flu that have severely impacted tourist destinations. Whether the incidence of disasters or crises, both natural and man-made, is increasing, people have become more concerned about their safety, particularly when they decide to go travelling (Machado and Almeida, Natural disasters: Prevention, risk factors and management. Nova Science Publishers, 2012). The Atlantic islands, fragile by nature, have been plagued in recent decades by relatively frequent events, leaving tracks of destruction and extremely damaging image of fate.

Madeira Island was no exception; after the storm of 2010, which left marks still visible today, the island once again suffered a fire of unprecedented dimensions in August 2016, terrorizing the population and tourists who quickly helped spread the news around the world. The strong winds and very high temperatures far above normal pushed the flames to the city, populated by old buildings and badly treated pieces of land that worked as a fuse to make the city a hell of flames. The initial under-assessment of risk and clear lack of preparation for such events helped, and chaos settled for several days. The economic impact of the fires, the damage to the local entrepreneurs and the recovery of the destination image are something that can take years to recover. This chapter intends to deepen the damage caused to the island tourism sector while suggesting some actions that can minimize the effect of a similar crisis in events that seem to arise more and more frequently!


Safety and security crisis Crisis in Atlantic islands Managing crisis Place image 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • António Manuel Martins de Almeida
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luiz Pinto Machado
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidade da MadeiraFunchalPortugal
  2. 2.CEFAGE Center for Advanced Studies in Management and Economics, Universidade de ÈvoraÈvoraPortugal

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