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Past Webcasts - September 11, 2007

Research Forum

Past Webcasts Home

VT Cast #5: Relief VolunTourism


Discussion focuses on discovering the connections between relief, following natural or man-made disasters, and VolunTourism. For example, when should VolunTourists come to a destination following a disaster? What should destinations do to be better prepared for future disasters and the outpouring of sympathy and desire to contribute from people around the world? Tune in and hear the comments of guests as they answer these questions and more.

[Listen To The Cast] (Click Here To Download)


Benjamin Brigham, DestinationRecovery.com, Steve Richer, Executive Director of the Gulfcoast Convention & Visitors Bureau [Bio], and Mary Beth Romig, Director of Communications & Public Relations for the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau



Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT



"And if I could go back just a second to touch on the question of when is it okay for tourists to come. I think Mary Beth, you know, hit kinda two key points. And the first one is that from day one, I mean immediately, they need volunteers.

And I think it’s important to make the distinction among the different varieties of VolunTourists, if you will. Because… there are some who are instrumentally motivated - doctors, engineers, first aid personnel who are needed to come and kind of help handle the triage and then… the other extreme is like what we dealt with with Spring Break Relief - your college students who don’t necessarily possess a particular professional skill set but they do have the desire to go and help out and they can help with clean up… what species of a VolunTourist you are plays in heavily as to when you should be on the ground to help." Ben Brigham

[Listen To This Quote]

"On our web site for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is Gulfcoast.org, a section that says if you want to volunteer when you click on that it gives all the organizations that are still here that are taking volunteers. But to look at it over the long period of time I think there’s three issues depending upon the time sequence of the event.

The first one is what is it they’re gonna do. The second one is what do you need to bring with you in terms of helping the people who have been impacted. And the third one is what can you expect in terms of how you’re gonna be accommodated." Steve Richer

[Listen To This Quote]

"There’s some hotels down here that are offering packages for folks who are coming down to help out and one of my favorite stories is there’s one specific hotel that when they know that guests, if it’s a group or even just two or three people, had spent the day engaged in some kind of recovery activity as many hotel staff as they can gather when they return they line up in the lobby and applaud them as they get off the elevators… it’s really… it’s a nice touch." Mary Beth Romig

[Listen To This Quote]

Guest Bios

Steve Richer, Executive Director, Gulfcoast CVB

A Princeton graduate, Steve served as councilman and mayor of his hometown in New Jersey, was an assistant to the Governor of New Jersey, and held tourism marketing positions in Nevada and Atlantic City before coming to the Mississippi Coast. In 11 years as director of the Harrison County Tourism Commission, he has built a fully-accredited Convention & Visitors Bureau. He was named Outstanding Mississippi Tourism Marketer and is a member of the Mississippi Tourism Hall of Fame. He serves on boards of many organizations, among them are the Gulf Coast Mental Health Association, Pine Burr Council Boy Scouts of America, New Hope Center, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, INFINITY at Stennis Space Center, and Biloxi Main Street. He is president of Congregation Beth Israel. As a member of the Tourism committee of the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, he defined the goal of making the Mississippi Coast a “tier one” tourist destination and, as co-chair of the Gulf Coast Business Council’s tourism attractions committee, he is helping lead the effort to reach that goal.

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