That was the question I was asked when I presented recently on ABC Nightline, the national radio programme in Australia.
I was invited onto the programme because of my E Book and workshop entitled “Ghost Town ,Clone Town, Home Town”.
As a business consultant I define a “Ghost Town” as a community where at least 20% of the retail premises in the High Street have closed down, this gives the consumer the impression a town is dying.
What is a Ghost Town?
It is derelict old town which may be preserved because of historic importance or is it an old town that has been developed as a tourist attraction or a town that has survived by being a Disney style attraction or a town where the community has left the region. Plus, it could be combination of these factors.
What causes a town to become Ghost Town?
A town can become ghost town over night or over a century. The reasons for dereliction are numerous.
The main reasons a ghost town occurs could be:
- Fire. The bushfires in Australia have illustrated how a town can become ghost town overnight. This happened in January 2016 when Yarloop in Western Australia was destroyed overnight with the loss of two people and 181 homes.
- Flood. We have seen towns literally swept away around the world due to flooding
- Famine. The Irish potato famine of 1845-1849 meant many towns became ghost towns in Ireland.
- Historic battles. Oradour-sur-Glane in France in June 1944 was destroyed by the German invasion and has been preserved as a ghost town.
- Drought The droughts across Australia over recent years have resulted in people leaving the land and hence towns being unable to survive.
- Economic Downturn in the local economy. Bodie ,California was a thriving town until the last gold mine closed in 1942.
- The economic downturn in 2020 because of COVID 19 will result in new influx of Ghost Towns
- Pollution. Chernobyl in April 1996 resulted in the village of Pipyrat in Ukraine becoming a ghost town and Witternoom in West Australia faced the same fate due to asbestos mining pollution
- Government Action. Imber on the Salisbury Plain in the UK was thriving little village until the British Government took it over in 1943 as a war time practice ground. It has never been returned to the villagers.
Can Ghost Towns become a Tourist Attraction ?
History has show that “Dark Tourism” is popular. Halloween is a big tourist event in the USA and Canada with tourist visiting haunted houses Now is the time to develop Ghost trails to build on this momentum
Before setting up a ghost town ,identify
1 What is going to make you unique
2Who is a your target market
3 What does the local community want and care about
4 How can local businesses help on the journey
Then develop your action plan.