What is dark tourism?
Dark tourism destinations represent tragedy, death, suffering, and other similar ideas (Stone, 2006) These dark sites range from fun to horrifying, from ghost tours to concentration camps (Stone, 2006).
Some researchers argue that dark tourism is growing in popularity (Timothy & Boyd, 2006). Yet, people have participated in dark tourism for centuries. For example, hundreds of years ago, pilgrims traveled to view relics associated with martyrs. More recently, dark tourists visit places like memorials, battlefields, monuments, ghost tours, places where famous people died, or where people were enslaved (Timothy & Boyd, 2006). People who are considered dark tourists include those who take selfies in front of burning buildings or at other sites of tragedy (Price, 2017). While they are sometimes called thanatourists or heritage tourists, these kinds of tourists visit places of death, atrocity, disaster, terrorism, or human suffering (Price, 2017).
Why do people visit dark sites?
Visitors are motivated by a lot of different reasons, including a desire to think about and talk about death in public (Stone, 2013). Some people look for religious pilgrimage or seek a life-changing experience (Collins-Kreiner, 2015; Seaton, 2002). Others visit due to patriotism, nationalism, or to rewrite history for themselves (Carr, 2010; Stone, 2013).
Social media has increased interest in dark tourism (Price, 2017). Now, tourists can post selfies or livestream their experiences as they visit sites of tragedy or human suffering.
This site was created by Rebecca Price, MLIS, MEd.