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In Merapi's Shadow, a Tourism Boom

The Merapi Golf Course in Yogyakarta, covered in ash. (Image credit: DigitalGlobe.)

The golf courses may be covered in volcanic ash, but tourists are flocking to Indonesia to see devastated villages near the recently eruptive Mount Merapi volcano.

Indonesia is known for its beautiful beaches and also for its explosive history . Tourists with a curiosity about the aftermath of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are being courted to the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Reuters reports.

The eruptions, which began on Oct. 26, killed more than 350 people and created nearly 400,000 refuges. That destruction, it seems, is a selling point for local travel agencies desperate for tourists' dollars after the volcanic ash forced airports to close for weeks. [Related: Mount Merapi's Destruction Seen From Space .]

"In the new volcano tour package, we'll take customers to explore the closest village to the peak and see how bad the devastation is," Edwin Ismedi Hinma, of the local tour agencies association, told Reuters. "Then we'll take them to a river to watch cold lahars flood past."

Lahars are flows of volcanic debris .

Disaster tourism

The idea of traveling to the aftermath of a natural disaster isn't new. After the eruption of the Icelandic volcano ((CONLINK|29824|EyjafjallajÃ

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.