Grief Tourism

Travel to areas affected by natural disasters, places where people were murdered, etc.

Trying to explain the rise of dark tourism

25th March 2007

This article looks at dark tourism and explores (in a very shallow way) the popularity of dark tourism. Tourist sites mentioned include Ground Zero in New York (here there’s an interesting comment from a tourist who refused to leave the tour bus because he “felt it was a bit sick”), Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the Necropolis in Glasgow, the graves of Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the killing fields of Choeung Ek and interrogation centre Tuol Sleng in Cambodia, plus Lockerbie and Dunblane in Scotland.

We get a quote from Professor John Lennon, of Glasgow Caledonian University:

“People want to go and be tourists in war zones while wars are happening. They seem to have an appetite to get very close while the blood is still dripping. There is no limit to the appetite for this stuff and demand is driving it faster and faster.

“We are always fascinated by the dark side of human nature and the most evil things people can do.”

I find this quote interesting for several reasons. First I think Lennon is exaggerating when he says there’s no limit to our appetite for visiting war zones. Ask yourself how many of your friends would like to visit a war zone and get close enough to see dripping blood. I know that experiencing a war is not on my shortlist of vacation ideas.

So I’m going to disagree with Lennon on his first point. There most certainly is a limit to our appetite for visiting war zones.

The Lennon says something about being fascinated by the dark side of human nature etc. I don’t think you have to be a scholar or a professor to know that. The reason I find this obvious comment interesting is because of what it implies about the definition of dark tourism. It implies that dark tourism is centered around the evil things that people do. This might not include acts of nature such as Hurricane Katrina or the Tsunami. As I’ve said before, the definitions of words like grief tourism and dark tourism are still being written so this interpretation will only be meaningful if other people also refer to things people do when they refer to dark tourism. We shall see.

One Response to “Trying to explain the rise of dark tourism”

  1. golds Says:

    Is there anyone planning a trip to Belfast – Northern Ireland during the next couple of weeks?

    I am a TV journalism student at Goldsmiths College, currently researching for and producing a short documentary on dark tourism, with particular regards on the Northern Ireland region. The film will be primarily about the visitor’s experience, whilst travelling to sites in the region that are closely related to the troubles of the last decades.

    If you want to know more about this film and/or if you would be interested to participate in it, please contact me as soon as possible.

    my email is:

    Hope to hear from you soon!