Risk perception and evacuation decisions of Florida tourists under hurricane threats: a stated preference analysis
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- Matyas, C., Srinivasan, S., Cahyanto, I. et al. Nat Hazards (2011) 59: 871. doi:10.1007/s11069-011-9801-0
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Though most hurricane evacuation studies have focused on residents, tourists are also a vulnerable population. To assess their perceptions of risk and evacuation likelihood under different hurricane conditions, we surveyed 448 tourists visiting central Florida. Respondents viewed four maps emulating track forecast cones produced by the National Hurricane Center and text information featuring variations of storm intensity, coast of landfall, centerline position relative to the survey site, time until landfall, and event duration. We performed chi-square tests to determine which hurricane conditions, and aspects of tourists such as their demographics and previous hurricane experience, most likely influenced their ratings of risk and evacuation likelihood for respondents located on Pinellas County beaches or inland near Orlando, FL. Highly rated scenarios featured a Category 4 hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast with the centerline passing over the sampling site. Overall, tourists that indicated the highest risk and evacuation ratings were not previously affected by a hurricane, had a trip duration of less than 6 days, and had checked for the possibility of a hurricane strike before departure. However, results for other tourist attributes differed between tourists in coastal and inland locations. We found that although somewhat knowledgeable about hurricanes, tourists misinterpreted the track forecast cone and hurricane conditions, which led to a lower perception of risk and subsequent likelihood to evacuate. Tourists, particularly those from outside of Florida, need to be better educated about the risks they face from hurricanes that make landfall.