Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Dark Tourism Essay

Since the existence of mankind, the travel to and experiences associated with death is not a new phenomenon and we have been interested and drawn towards sites or attractions associated with users and death since the time of pilgrimages and before (Stone and Sharply, 2008, Pl; Enamel, 2010, Rob, 2009). This practice was first labeled and coined “dark tourism” by Lennox and Foley (2003:3 as cited by Rob, 2009, p. L; Stone and Sharply, 2008).

However, there have been many variation of similar terms used to define or label the consumption of death- related tourist activities such as ‘tambourines”, “morbid tourism”, “disaster tourism” and “grief tourism” (Stone and Sharply, 2008; Mile, 2010). Over the last century, there is an increase of tourist flocking to sites associated with death and disaster (Will, 2003). Being based on human misery and death, the upsurge consumption of dark tourism goes beyond traditional tourism whereby tourists seek to understand cultures and histories (Rob, 2009).

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A study done by LUHN (2000:26) stated that visitation to Titanic naval disaster at two off-site exhibitions in Greenwich England and Alnico Halifax showed that visitor increment on a yearly basis was approximately 2. 5 times ” visitation in 1 997 had been 1 12,600 – 1 998 saw 224,000 Visitors” (as cited by Yield, 2003). Other than the emotional and educational motive that dark tourism offers in contemporary society, death has become a taboo due to the inevitable potential that allows one to question social frameworks and life (Mile, 2010).

Gibbons states that ontological security is a characteristic feature of contemporary society and is defined by Stone and Sharply (2008) ” .. [that] ontological security is [the sense of being] constantly threatened by angst of disorder or chaos. ” (as cited by Mile, 2010, up. 13-14). Society protects everyone directly from disorder and chaos to preserve the sense of order and continuity of life, but this would stimulate fear of the unknown among those ho try to bracket out the equation of death.

However, despite the taboo-like traits it possesses, the upsurge consumption of dark tourism proves that the benefits cannot be unheeded and due to its dark nature, it is inevitable that its supposedly beneficial desired purpose are masked by various misconceptions. Background of Dark Tourism The patronizing of dark tourism intensified during the late 1 8th and early 19th century (Sexton 1996) with war sites constituting to the largest single category of tourist attractions in the world (Smith, 1998).

With dark tourism n the rise, it is crucial to be aware of the motivations towards the consumption. According to Sexton (1999), dark tourism is defined as traveling to locations motivated by the desire for actual or symbolic encounters with death, particularly, but not exclusively, violent death’. With this perspective in hand, dark travel activities can be divided into five categories. See Figure 1. Figure 1. Five Categories of Dark Travel Activities The Different Shades of Dark Tourism A distinction can be made be;en ‘dark’ and ‘darker’ tourism based upon the location of the site or attraction.

As dark tourism products are multifaceted, employ in design, purpose and diverse in nature, it accounts for multiple shades. According to Miles (2002) a site that possesses a higher degree of political influence in its design and interpretation tends to promote a product of more remembrance, commemoration and education, thus, a “shade more serious” (as cited by Stone, 2006). The idea of a ‘spectrum’, as outlined in the Figure 2 takes into account possible shades of darkness, that is, a perceived level of ‘morbidity’ within an overall dark tourism product.

Ranging from ‘darkest’ through to ‘lightest’ products, which are characterized by design eaters, such as whether a product has an educational or commercial ethic, or whether a product has spatial affinity With a site, or if higher levels of political influence and ideology is apparent within the product purpose and interpretation. See Figure 3. Figure 2. A Dark Tourism Spectrum: 6 Shades of Darkness The Seven Suppliers of Dark Tourism Product By using the conceptual framework of the spectrum, it is possible to build a typological foundation for dark tourism supply, and attention is now given to outlining its suppliers.

The seven suppliers are described in Figure 3. Figure 3. The seven Dark suppliers The Misconception of Dark Tourism Death and tragedy is often categorized as a taboo and sensitive subject that may be prohibited from one’s daily conversation and it certainly does not gel well with entertainment. Entertainment is the main categorization component in the tourism industry and is commonly associated with happiness, joy, and relaxation. However, the true meaning of entertainment involves audience captivation in terms of resonated emotions.

The kinds of entertainment that dark tourism sites offer are often deemed controversial mainly due to its association with tragedy, death or suffering. Dark leisure go against traditional societal norms that may disturb other members of society, and that rejects the mainstream norms and values (Reek, 2000; Sprinkle, 201 3 as cited by Moss, 2013). Similar to any other forms of entertainment, media is the main publicity tool. Therefore, it is high chance that the media would feed the public with over-traumatized and exaggerated facts.

This may lead to outputs that may feature fictitious elements that go against typical social norms and values and hence, the misinterpretation of dark entertainment. Motivational Factors of Dark Tourism Motivation refers to the inner forces which arouse and direct human behavior (Bee & Gruyere, 2007; BOO “ones, 2009). Stone and Sharpies (2008) revealed that visitors are driven by differing intensities of interest or fascination in death which distinguishes different visitor motivations.

However, Tambourines is more than just a fascination with death and studies have proven that this is not only the source of motivation towards its consumption. Factors regarding tourist motivation have been identified and summarized below. See Figure 4 Some of those reasons are similar to rotational tourism, and others specifically related to the attraction or site. Figure 4. Visitor Motivational Factors to Visit Dark Sites Impacts of Dark Tourism The consumption of dark tourism reveals many significant impacts towards an individual, a community and a country.

Established firmly on heritage and culture, dark tourism offers not only as an attraction but it also allows one to have the chance to recapitulates death and mortality, and be a provider for an educational source (Koreans, 2011; Enamel, 2010). The conceptualization Of dark tourism helps generate a practical examination Of one’s own unconscious thoughts and feelings other than the primitive terror and dread towards mortality, neutralizing the transience of life (Stone, 2012).

The Body Worlds exhibition and the House of Terror are two examples which resonate with the roots of dark tourism. The Body Worlds Exhibition The Body Worlds exhibition displays real preserved human corpses and organs that depict diseases or the causes of human biological death (Stone, 201 1). The exhibition’s aim is to enlighten and promote health education and awareness of health problems to visitors. (Koreans, 201 1; Stone, 2011 At his point one may question the need for understanding mortality with the display using real bodies and organs instead of artificial ones.

However, in contrast to the argument, Body Worlds officials (2010) endorses a quote “naturalness of our bodies and recognition of the individuality and anatomical beauty inside” (as cited by Stone, 2011) which clearly resonates with education and the recapitulation’s on death. A study done by Moore and Brown (2007) examines experiences of Body Worlds and suggest that the exhibition can promote a sense of community and a unity of races through its lactic culture and philosophical issues (as cited by Stone, 201 1).

The House of Terror Budapest, Hungary, is home to many monuments, sculptures and museums built to reminiscence the communist period, memorizing victims of war and the aftermath of World War II (WI). The House of Terror museum stands as a monument to remember those who lost their lives under Nazi and the Communist reigns during and after WI. This museum presents itself as a physical object conveying emotions, information and the recapitulation’s about life.

However, it may be subjected to whether this enactment of assumes, monuments and sculpture would truly allow one to recapitulates about the past and life or causing negative impacts on the tourist, community and country. If local government do not take proper consideration in restoring and preserving history but instead bent towards profit making techniques to maintain tourist interest and distort history, it will ruin the educational and perception for an individual (Will, 2003).

However this claim can be argued by Stone and Sharply (2008) that by utilizing techniques to re-enact historical scene it can help one better understand the past through the present. A personal recount to this House of Terror by Enamel (2010) states how such techniques have enhanced her experience: . [she] was able to understand the horror any war cause to a nation.. Huge amount of strong emotions, presents important information raises and provokes visitor to have a conversation and contemplate the past, present and future. ” (p. 7).

Apart from individualistic benefits, it could also benefit the community and country by bringing in tourist dollars which will help re-build communities who have suffered (Sanderson, 2011). Factors Affecting People’s Motivation and Perception The consumption Of dark tourism is based on consumers’ motivations and perception rather than the site attributes. A study by I-Sizzle (1984) found that tourists are not motivated by a destination’s qualities, but rather they resonate with the destination’s qualities to their psychological need (as cited by Will, 2003).

This perception and motivation can be influenced by different factors which can be classified into two groups: push and pull. The push factors (internal) is based on of the psychological state which is known as the motivation and the pull factor (external) which are destination-generated ores and is known as motivators (Danna, 1 977, as cited by Will, 2003). Push Factors (Internal) The push factors discuss tourist as the subject and factors predisposing a tourist to consume dark tourism which is based on psychological reasons such as the need to learn, to reflect on morality, ego-enhancement and many others.

In this section, we will be focusing on these three reasons. According to Moscow (1 970), the need to know and understand drives people’s motivation which can be classified under psychological needs (as cited by Enamel, 2010). Danna (1977) ego-enhancement theory states that, man deeds to seeks recognition and superiority through traveling to places where social position is unknown and recounting holiday experiences (as cited by Will, 2003).

At this point, one may wonder whether psychological needs stands as a factor affecting motivation and perception or perhaps different personality could be a factor. Plops socio/physiographic graph tells about the 3 stages visitor personality that will affect their motivation: ventures, near and mid centric ventures, near dependable and dependable. See Figure 5. Electrical tourist seek unique and daring adventures during their travel as marred to a phosphorescent tourist who seeks comfort and safety (Namely, 2010).

In contrast to this argument, nostalgia have been identified as a tourism motivator by Confront (1996) and Tarsal (2005) underlines that nostalgia can touch anyone, which shows that personality do not necessarily be the factor that allows one to shun away from consuming dark tourism (as Cited by Enamel, 2010, will, 2003) Figure 5. Plops Socio / Physiographic Personality Types Graph Pull Factors (External) The pull factors discussed based on motivator factors that draw a person to a ewe location such as recreation facilities, cultural attractions and tourist knowledge about a destination.

However, these motivators can be largely influence by tour groups and the media, due to the fact that it is about how the sites are presented (Enamel, 2010; Stone, 201 1) The media has the ability to disseminate information to public consciousness, allowing one the ability to resonate this information to one’s own psychological needs (Will, 2003). The media does this by being a physical realm to create an absent-present paradox (Enamel, 201 0), forming the term “imaginary tourism” which allows en to experience “traveling’ at the comfort of their home (Rob, 2009; Stone, 201 1).

Through the information shown by the media, it is than able to tap into ones motivation in the aspect of psychological needs. The individual would gain knowledge leading to the cultivation of curiosity and seek fulfillment of one’s motivation. Therefore it is stated that the psychological needs (internal) drives the pull factor (external). At this point, it may be objected that the media, being a major influencer create inaccurate motivation and perception to entice people to visit these sites.

In contrast to his argument, one must understand that the media plays a foundational role in igniting the initial sparks for travel, serving as a medium to bring death back to social consciousness thus increasing visitation volume (Rob, 2009; Stone and Sharply, 2008; Will, 2003). For example is the rising of History Channel which incorporate entertaining yet informative insight into the past, shaping a unique perspective for individuals. “… Words doesn’t mean anything and [when] it comes alive . People are interested. . See history from a different point of view than just names and dates .. Focus Transcript, 2002, as cited by Will 2003). Conclusion Despite the mistaken beliefs, dark tourism possesses beneficial purposes that range from an educational to a recreational perspective and also supply various gains that ranges from personal fulfillment to a national context as discussed in this paper. As the future growth of dark tourism is favorable, it remains unclear if it is indeed an established niche market.

Although dark sites are not the most popular of choices amongst majority tourists, it still shares some similar tourist motivations as general tourism. By consuming ark tourism, the pursuit towards its educational aspect might bring one out of their traveling comfort-persona in doing something out of the ordinary. By doing so, it helps them discover and perhaps alter their viewpoint about the country or culture and have a clearer understanding on how past events may relate to current situations.


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