Surprisingly, after the “Titan” disaster, the demand for sunken submarine trips increases

Throughout history, humans have proved incapable of resisting the gravitational pull of Earth’s extremes—be it its highest mountains, its deepest oceans, or even the outer limits of its atmosphere.

And with the development of technology, a sprawling industry of extreme tourism has emerged to give people – mostly the wealthy – a chance to stare at death with a large safety net. For the right price, you can ascend or descend into the nooks and crannies of the planet, briefly accessing areas no human being has ever been to.

Of course, even the best and most expensive safety net can fail.

Last week’s catastrophic explosion on Oceangate’s Titan submarine killed all five people on board, many of whom paid a quarter of a million dollars for the chance to travel four kilometers underwater. And around the world, and specifically on Mount Everest, where guided treks cost tens of thousands of dollars at least, 17 people have died or gone missing in what is likely to be the deadliest season on the mountain in recorded history. Last spring, five people, including 56-year-old Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, died in a helicopter crash in Alaska.

There is a common denominator between these trips, whether diving to the depths of the ocean, or climbing mountains at high altitudes, or even skiing and jumping from a helicopter in the north of the planet, and they are two constant facts: these trips are only undertaken by the very rich, and the second is that the fringe of The error is too narrow. But when people need to be rescued in some of the most unforgiving places in the world, those rescue costs can add up quickly, according to an extensive report prepared by CNN, seen by Al

Danger is the point

You might imagine that the possibility of an adventure with a higher than normal chance of dying would be the turning point for taking that adventure. But for many wealthy travelers, risk is exactly the target.

Lukas Furtenbach, founder of mountaineering company Furtenbach Adventures, said: “Part of the appeal of Everest – and I think it’s the same for the Titanic, or going into space, or anything else – is that it’s dangerous.”

“I think as long as people die in these places, that’s part of why people want to go there,” said Furtenbach, whose company offers a $220,000 option to climb Mount Everest with unlimited oxygen and individual guidance.

After a particularly deadly season, demand for the following season tends to be higher, Furtenbach said.

In the years since 1996, permits to climb Everest have increased exponentially, a season that ended the lives of 12 climbers and became the subject of international media attention, including the bestselling book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer.

“In every catastrophic season – I would say every 3 to 5 years – we can see a significant increase in permits issued,” Furtenbach said.

“If it was 100% safe to climb Mount Everest, I think that would be the end of the adventure.”

Similarly, last week’s tragedy in the North Atlantic seems unlikely to dampen demand for Titanic’s deep-sea visits. On the contrary, its global prominence may fuel interest.

The founder of luxury travel company Brown and Hudson, Philip Brown, said his company still has a long waiting list for Titanic tours, which it runs in partnership with OceanGate, the subsidiary operator behind Titan.

Brown said: “We do not feel any particular concern, and no one has canceled anything so far, and increased inquiries about our services.” “We’ve seen a huge increase in membership applications,” which cost between $12,000 and $120,000 annually.

The search for “Titan” caught the attention of the international media, and in doing so, would-be explorers got a reminder that they could see the Titanic firsthand. Brown said travelers may now become more concerned because they expect the accident to lead to more regulation and better technology.

“Unfortunately, sometimes tragedies are the catalysts for progress.”

The wreck of the Titanic (AFP)

The wreck of the Titanic (AFP)

Who pays the disaster bill?

Ethical debates have raged among adventurers and academics for decades about how, and even whether, rescue missions for lost travelers should be carried out.

When the Titan went missing on Sunday, it prompted a massive search operation led by the US Coast Guard with French and Canadian authorities. US officials have not commented publicly on the cost of the 5-day mission, although experts put the figure in the millions.

Philip Stone, director of the Dark Tourism Research Institute at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “When things go wrong for a traveler in so-called extreme tourism, the financial cost of rescue and compensation often falls on the emergency services or charities tasked with helping people.”

He explained that in the case of important rescue missions, such as the Titan accident, “which would cost millions of dollars,” taxpayers would eventually foot the bill.

“Governments are charged with protecting lives, and despite the folly of some individuals who dive to see the Titanic in an unregulated submarine, those lives are worth saving,” Stone added.

In the United States, neither the Coast Guard nor the National Park Service charge people to rescue them. But some states like New Hampshire and Oregon will force rescued state park hikers to foot the bill for their rescue, in part to deter inexperienced tourists from venturing off the beaten path.

Part of the reason for that, as one retired Coast Guard member told Insider last week, is that in a life-or-death situation, worrying about the potential cost of a rescue shouldn’t influence anyone’s decision to seek help.

Should people be prevented from taking such colossal risks if doing so increases the likelihood of an expensive bailout?

Victor Vescovo, a private equity investor and retired naval officer, thinks he doesn’t.

“Just because they’re expensive and out of reach for most people doesn’t mean they’re negative in any way,” said Vescovo, a prominent undersea explorer who helped design and build the submarines. “And I think it’s very difficult to judge people by how they spend the money that they’ve probably worked their whole life to accumulate to use as they see fit.”

Not all deep-sea drilling is dangerous, he said, and there is nothing inherently wrong with the rich splurging on high-stakes adventures.

“Nobody talks about people spending thousands of dollars to go to theme parks or other tourist spots,” Vescovo said. “This is just more extreme.”

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