Barely two weeks have passed since a meteor crashed into western Siberia, injuring more than 1,000 people and scaring pretty much everyone everywhere. Now that the Russian town of Chelyabinsk has put out the fires and recovered from the meteor's impact, its leaders are already scheming up a way to capitalize on the incident.
“Space sent us a gift and we need to make use of it,” Natalia Gritsay, head of the region’s tourism department, told Bloomberg. “We need our own Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty.”
According to Bloomberg, locals have suggested ideas such as a “cosmic music and fireworks festival” or a “floating beacon-tipped pyramid” atop the lake. Others have suggested “Meteor Disneyland” or a “Cosmic Water Park.” Perhaps the most fun-sounding is the idea to construct a diving center at the lake so that tourists can search for meteorites in the mud.
Apparently curious tourists have already begun to arrive: A local travel agency is organizing summer tours for two groups from Japan.
Disaster tourism is certainly nothing new. When Chernobyl was officially opened to tourists in 2011, plenty of curious onlookers flocked to tour the site. (Not that they weren't going illegally before.) And, as NBC reported, the wreckage of the Costa Concordia spurred shipwreck tourism in Italy.
Closer to home, residents in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward are pushing back against tour operators who bus out-of-towners in to see the post-Katrina damage.