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Richard Aquino

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of DARK TOURISM

What is dark tourism?
...the phenomenon which encompasses the presentation and consumption
(by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites (Foley & Lennon, 1996, p. 198)
When did this phenomenon start?
Who are dark tourists?
They can be anybody given that dark tourism attractions are multi-faceted (Yuill, 2003).
Why do people travel to dark tourism sites?

16,000 died in the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum
250,000 ANZAC casualties
Gallipoli War Memorial
6 & 9 AUGUST 1945

246,000 people died
Ground Zero marker in Nagasaki
9-11 ATTACKS 2001
2,996 died

9-11 Memorial

...visitations to places where tragedies or historically noteworthy death has occurred and that to continue to impact our lives (Tarlow, 2005, p. 48)
...the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre (Stone, 2006)
to a location wholly, or partially, motivated by the desire for actual or symbolic
encounters with death, particularly, but not exclusively, violent death, which may, to a
varying degree be activated by the person-specific features of those whose deaths are its
focal objects” (Seaton, 1996, p.240)
Matrix of dark tourism demand and supply (Sharpley, 2009)
Dark tourism spectrum (Stone, 2006)
It started as long as people were able to travel, and have drawn purposefully or otherwise to attractions of death, disasters, suffering and violence.
Thus, it appears that people have been long attracted to these type of attractions or events.

(Sharpley & Stone, 2009; Stone, 2005)
Roman gladiator games were early forms of death-related tourism.
In 1838, travel by train to witness the hanging of two murderers in England is allegedly known to be the first guided tour to a public execution event.
(Boorstin, 1964, as cited in Sharpley & Stone, 2009)
This was followed by the Grand Tour by Thomas Cook, where elite tourists were brought to the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum to see the remains of people who perished covered by ash due the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Hence, a recognised phenomenon of disaster/death-related tourism in the industrial era.
(Petford, Fletcher, & Morakabati, 2010)
Ancient to industrial era
Modern to postmodern era
The wreck of the SS Moro Castle
sank in 8 September 1934
Sensationalised by media (print and radio), up to 250,000 people travelled to view the wreck.
Thus, a pre-war dark tourism event that was triggered by a rapid spread of information through media.

(Hegeman, 2000)
Following the events of 9-11 attacks, a $65 per person "Flight 93" tour was initiated to view the crash site of UA 93 aircraft.

Places of human incarceration:
• Prisons, slavery sites, concentration camps, penal colonies.

War and conflict-related attractions:
• Concentration/internment camps, historic battlefields, war memorials, active war zones, sites of genocide.

Natural disasters:
• Earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions.

Sites connected to death:
• Cemeteries, graves, murders, suicides, terrorist attacks.

Crime scenes:
• Places where bank robberies, kidnappings, rapes and murders have occurred.

Other morbid attractions and places of human suffering:
• Haunted houses, séances or exorcisms, mental hospitals.
(Timothy, 2011)
Now, based on this historical development, is dark tourism:
e.g. curiosity
e.g. by media/technology
A dark tourist spectrum: perceived typology of visitors to dark resting places
within a ‘‘darkest-lightest’’ framework (Raine, 2013)
You are walking along a city street then suddenly, you noticed that there are police cars and an ambulance rushing into the opposite part of the road. You overheard that there is somebody who jumped from an apartment building apparently to commit suicide. Would you bother getting into the scene to view the incident? Why or why not?
(person-specific attractors)
escape - to experience something different than happens in their everyday lives
catharsis - to confront unpleasant events to which we have no personal or individual connection (Blom, 2000)
Schadenfreude - the pleasure of seeing others’ misfortune
thanatopsis - the contemplation of death
(Seaton & Lennon, 2004)
Now, reflect; how do you view death personally or in your society?
(destination-driven attractors)
site sacralisation
shade of darkness


How do tourists consume dark tourism sites/objects?
Tarlow (2005) assertions - mystical experience, spiritual experience, confronting death

Wang (1999) - authenti-seeking (constructive or experiential authenticity)

How about dark tourism as consumption of dreams?

The experience will depend on the tourists interpretation of death or meaning of their own social existence.
Sharpley (2002;2009) - social interaction, communal consumption (i.e. Gallipoli Service on ANZAC Day)

Co-creation - communitas (i.e. one-off events such as the burial of Princess Diana)
Sharpley (2002;2009) - marker of social status

to shape one's identity
being 'cool' or 'awesome' (i.e. in visiting dangerous places)
national identity (i.e. visiting a war site that is connected to one's nationhood)
self-realisation/actualisation upon reflecting on death and dying
Integrate self and object. Allowing themselves access to the object’s symbolic properties’.
• Moments of ‘memento mori’ - reminding people of their mortality
• Fascination
• Integration is smoother for tourists with a personal connection.
(i.e.)Gallipoli battlefields (Connecting national identity)
• To ‘fit’ the identity of the destination (i.e. Ground Zero)
'Haunting memories’
• Process of self-extension.
• Personal Growth - question humanity
• Darkest form of tourism – tourists integrate themselves with death

Thanatalogical Perspective
(Sharpley & Stone, 2008)
• Why do people want to integrate themselves with death?
• Modern society’s diminished experience with death.
• See death constantly (media), but cannot ‘touch it’
• Medicalisation of death
• Death & mortality – hidden in the modern world
• Left alone to face the concept of death – search for meaning

• This is where dark tourism comes in.
• Indulge curiosity and fascination with death
• Socially acceptable, sanctioned environment
• Construct contemplations of mortality
• Minimise the threat that death brings
• Hope that their own death will be a ‘good’ death.

Commoditisation of death and disasters for profit
Immorality of exploiting other people's lives
Insensitive behaviour of tourists on dark sites
Shock factor for attention
Conflicting interpretations of dark sites
Legalities in the darkest form of dark tourism, 'death tourism' (i.e. assisted suicide in Switzerland)
Dark tourism is not all about death and dying, but also about life and living (Stone, 2012).
It is natural for people to be curious and fascinated about death and suffering as it may not be present in daily life. Adjacent to this, it can be assumed that modern technology (e.g. media) sensationalises dark sites as supported by most dark tourism cases (i.e. Flight 93 tour, Auschwitz).
To some extent, dark tourism is viewed to neutralise the absence of death prominently in Western societies. This neutralisation could not be the case amongst all cultures or tourists; thus, an Eastern perspective should be the focus of future research.
It can be concluded that a dark site's shade of darkness does not correspond to the tourist actual dark experience. Interpretation is proposed to be a critical element in the presentation (production) and consumption of dark objects.
The production and consumption of dark tourism depends on the shade of darkness. Darker tourism experiences are more likely to be person-specific while lighter dark tourism experiences are attraction-driven.
In some instances, it enables people to accept their inevitable death.
In the future, it is seen to become more popular as Western societies become more secular. Moreover, on it can be concluded that there would be a continuity in the production and presentation of dark sites since atrocities and unpleasant events (e.g. disasters due to climate change) are present.
Tour operators and site managers should be more sensitive in interpreting death of others to prevent 're-victimisation' in host communities.
Educational benefits
Moral instruction
Hope for humanity
"I watched a documentary about Auschwitz last year and I'm really curious about the place. That's why i visited the place and try to see it for myself" (Anonymous).
"Well, it's the eeriest place that i have visited since you know that millions have died in the place.

It was beneficial for me because its a different thing for you to experience the tour than watching it on TV you are there to see feel and hear what really happened" (Anonymous).
Allen, N. (2012). Tourists ‘showing disrespect at Ground Zero memorial’ ahead of 9/11
anniversary. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from:

Graham, M., Dann, S., & Seaton, A. (2001). Slavery, contested heritage and thanatourism.
International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, 2(3), 1-29.

Harding, L. (2004). Von Hagens forced to return controversial corpses to China.
Retrieved September 12, 2013, from:

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Tourism Management, 32(6), 1343-1351.

Lemelin, R., Whyte, K., Johansen, K., Desbiolles, F., Wilson, C., & Hemming, S. (2013).
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Miller, D., & Gonzalez, C. (2013). When death is the destination: The business of death tourism – despite legal and social implications. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 7(3), 293-306.

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Hospitality Research, 7(3), 242-256.

Seaton, A. (1996). Guided by the dark: From thanatopsis to thanatourism.
International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2(4), 234-244.

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Stone, P., & Sharpley, R. (2008). Consuming dark tourism: A thanatological perspective.
Annals of Tourism Research, 35(2), 574-595.

Stone, P. (2011). Dark tourism and the cadaveric carnival: Mediating life and death
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