22 January 2013

What is Dark Tourism?

Well some of you might have been involved in travelling to attend different unhappy events related to death, destination or event attractions that were associated with death.... Well this is what tourism professionals call Death tourism any type of visit to different destinations, attractions and so on, that are associated with death or actual place of death of people either they be celebrities or not... Interesting topic though...

Different authors define dark tourism as recreational visits to sites associated with death or sites of death everything that counts from these visits are related to the experience that tourists actually get (Holloway, et al. 2009; Sharpley and Stone, 2009).

There are different types of attraction within dark tourism:
1. Dangerous destinations that could either be related to the past or the present;
2. Different buildings that were associated with death or man built;
3. Lands that commemorate death, disaster, atrocity etc.;
4. Tours to different attractions associated with death etc.;
5. Museums that have as main theme death, atrocity etc.(Sharpley and Stone,2009).

What could motivate tourists to visit such places?

According to Tarlow(2005) motivations of visiting could be:
1. Discover own self;
2. Understand why the things happened;
3. National identity;
4. Signs of decadence;
5. Esoteric experience;
6. Sacred experience (Tarlow,2005).

Dann(1998) states that main motivations could be:
1. The fear of phantoms;
2. Search for novelty;
3. Nostalgia;
4. Remembrance of death;
5. Basic bloodlust;
6. Dicing with death (which basically refers to the dangerous destination that could be fatal for some tourists)(Dann,1998);

Podoshen (2013) argues that motivations of tourists could be:
1. First of all Podoshen (2013) mentions the fact that in 1990s' the motivations for North Europeans to travel to such attractions or destination was related to church burning, suicide, murder etc.;
2. Human are purposely drawn to such attractions/destinations;
3. The are sensation seekers;
4. Voyeurism;
5. Schdenfreude - rubberneckers who stare are the tragedy of others;
6. Quest for a new experience or an adventure to gain knowledge and understand something that was unknown to them;
7. Spontaneity of sensation and driven by interest in death and/or disaster as dominant reason;
8. Interpretation is the key component of the tourist experience (Podoshen,2013).

Can Dark Tourism be considered authentic?

MacCannell (1973) states that there is a quest for authenticity which is doomed to failure because authenticity is staged for tourists.
Sharpley and Stone (2009) basically the value judgement and the removal or absence of authenticity leads such site to be considered worthless.Also there is are also some issues of over interpretation, triviality and distortion of the real things that happened there.
While these types of attraction are being managed by institutions and people that are just interested in the material wealth they can get from promoting them there will always be a matter of authenticity.

What is the impact of such attraction on the host community?

1.Can crystalize and rejuvenate the one self's pathway in life by become aware of the fact that at a point we are all going to die (Stone, 2012);
2. It can create confusion, anxiety and terror when thinking of own mortality (Giddens, 1991);
3. Sense of reality, memorial for some of the locals if they identify themselves with some victims in terms of relationships to them, acceptance of the fact that everyone is going to die, confrontation of death, personal meaningfulness, revival of mortality (Sharpley and Stone,2009).

Some examples of Dark Tourism attractions:

1. Auschwitz Concentration Camp - Poland (the universal symbol of evil) : http://en.auschwitz.org/m/
2. US Holocaust Museum Washington, USA : http://www.ushmm.org/
3. Ground Zero, New York City, USA
4. The Dungeons , United Kingdom: http//www.thedungeons.com/default-locations.aspx
5. Pont de l'Alma Road Tunnel, Paris, France
6. The Zone of Alienation in Chernobyl, Ukraine
7. Devil’s Island, French Guiana