“Dark or Grief Tourism” is a different type of tourist attraction

29 Jul 2012 | by Susana


Imagine you are in Paris and your guide is telling you that there is a new site to visit in the city, the “Pere Lachaise Cemetery”. What would you do? Would you go? Or would you think it is for crazy people ….

In fact, millions of travelers worldwide, when they are in certain countries or cities for holidays, they feel the urge to visit certain places: a cemetery, a museum of horrors, the exact spot where a celebrity died, the site where they carried out an attack, a death camp….

What motivates this kind of tourism?

Experts define the ‘dark tourism or grief tourism’ as the fascination or curiosity that may attract ordinary people to visit places associated with death. It has nothing to do with mental or hidden perversions…. (good news, since my favorite place is the Jewish Cemetery in Prague) and I would say it is a lucrative travel industry!

And what we have to remember is that it is a new way of tourism, we have to adapt our facilities to make it easier for our clients to enjoy their stay. By this, I mean that our marketing campaign has to be directed to Dark Tourism, if we are in Cambodia we should give instructions to our future clients with, the history of the site, routes, weather, dangers, etc…

At the moment, the area is under-researched and the “Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR)” hopes to become a global ‘hub’ of research on the subject. It will also help those who manage and promote dark tourism sites and exhibitions.


Some examples :

  • Ground Zero, site of the former World Trade Center twin buildings
  • Nazi death camps, where six million people died
  • Crash sites, such as Lockerbie in Scotland, where a TWA jumbo jet was blown up in 1988
  • The Paris tunnel in which Princess Diana was killed in 1997 being chased by paparazzi
  • Cambodia’s killing fields (Choeng Ek Extermination Camp), mass graves for some 20,000 Cambodians murdered during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the late 1970s
  • Central Park’s Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, who was assassinated nearby outside the Dakota in 1980
  • Most Cemeteries, including Arlington in the US and the Père Lachaise in Paris. There is an Association to promote European cemeteries as a fundamental part of the heritage of the humanity. To raise European citizen awareness of the importance of significant cemeteries.
  • Soham, a small English town, where two 10-year-olds were kidnapped and murdered by their school caretaker
  • Hiroshima in Japan, where the first atomic bomb was dropped
  • Chernobyl, where tour guides use geiger counters to test radiation while escorting visitors
  • The Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam, in memory of a 13-year-old Jewish schoolgirl who kept a diary while hiding from the Nazis
  • Hitler’s mountain residence at Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps
  • Normandy (France): The Alabaster Coast has beautiful scenery can be admired widely, but are ignored by the strong attraction of the twenty-seven cemeteries that bear witness to the battle that took place at the site. Bunkers standing still remembering the picture looked decisive Allied victory.
  • In London, the routes of Jack the Ripper, try to create the atmosphere of the city sordid Dickens.
  • The tunnels of Cu Chi, relict of the Vietnam War are a vast underground network that was used by the Vietnamese resistance in the bloody war. For a few hours, thousands of visitors to this attraction located near the capital relive the claustrophobic life of the soldiers of the Viet Cong or can exercise their aim with a “real” AK47.

This type of tourism has supporters and detractors. The first claim that it is a new concept which motivates visitors tours to visit the monuments, while encouraging the preservation of spaces that keep an important historical, artistic and social.

Critics who reject this new form of tourism argue that visitor arrivals could damage the burial sites and reduce the protection of historical and religious monuments.

See you next week!




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