Dark Tourism Explained by British Tour Operators

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Dark Tourism

Overview

  • What is Dark Tourism?
  • The Rise of Dark Destinations
  • Types of Dark Destinations
  • Conclusion

What is Dark Tourism?

Ever wondered what it really means to go on ‘dark tourism Holidays’? Well, wonder no more because we have broken down piece by piece what you will actually be getting yourself into on a dark destination destination. And trust us, it’s an experience you are not going to want to pass out on.

To put it simply, dark tourism also known as black tourism or grief tourism involves travelling to destinations that are historically associated with death and tragedy. Dark tourism is a concept that has been receiving increased attention in recent years. As British tour operators, we have seen a notable rise in visits to dark destinations around the world. Consequently, it has now been identified as one of the major segments of modern tourism.

The Rise of Dark Destinations

Popular TV shows such as ‘The Dark Tourist’ and ‘Chernobyl’ has helped introduce this new concept to many people across the world. They have been able to pique people’s curiosity to visit and explore these dark tourism destinations that are typically associated only with history books.

Although some may argue that dark tourism is unethical, we believe that it allows people to heighten their understanding of a place or an event that took place in the past. It would allow tourists to deepen their capacity for compassion and empathy to be more thoughtful in the future. If the right intentions are at heart when visiting dark tourism holidays, it has the power to bring about a much-needed change in the world.

Dark Tourism
Shelves of human Skulls

“I think they’re important places for us to reflect on and try to better understand the evil that we’re capable of.”

J. John Lennon

Types of Dark Destinations

Dark tourism can take various forms, from natural disasters to industrial disasters to brutal war sites. Dark destinations can vary from sites of death such as graves, cemeteries, mausoleums, ossuaries or tombs to sites of killings such as assassination sites, sites of mass death, battlefields and genocide.

They can even be museums that showcase symbols of death and memorial sites. There are also lighter dark destinations focused on entertainment that present real or fictional death and macabre events. Thus, listed below are some of the different types of dark destinations.

01. Disaster Area Tourism

This type of dark tourism involves visiting places that have been subjected to natural or man-made disasters. This allows tourists to experience the disaster area first hand, and witness its destruction fully and accurately. Disaster Area tourism can range from sites surrounding volcanic eruptions to places like Chernobyl where nuclear accidents occurred. Disaster Area tourism is for tourists who are in search of authenticity and for thrill-seekers who wish to partake in dangerous experiences or visit dangerous areas.

Dark Tourism
Chernobyl, Ukraine

02. Grave Tourism

Grave tourism involves visiting cemeteries, graves of famous people, grand mausoleums, tombstones and even ossuaries. Many grave tours take place in different parts of the world. This type of tourism allows its visitors to experience great landscapes, great deaths, great monuments and learn about the rich history that still lives on.

03. War/Battlefield Tourism

This type of dark tourism takes you to active or former war zones and war relics/ruins. Beyond visiting such sites, war/battlefield tourism can also take you to war museums, memorials, military cemeteries and hospitals and remembrance trails. War/battlefield tourism helps people keep in mind the death and destruction that took place in these places by acting as a potent symbol of remembrance.

04. Holocaust Tourism

Holocaust tourism takes you to destinations connected to the genocide of Jews during the Second World War, including visits to former Nazi concentration camps and death camps. The purpose of visiting this type of dark destination is to educate future generations about the genocidal acts that took place in these places and to honour and remember the victims as well as to ensure that history will not repeat itself.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial
Nazi concentration camp

05. Genocide Tourism

While the Nazi’s genocide of the Jews is what pops into mind when hearing this term, it (though certainly the worst) is not the only case. Recent horrors of genocidal acts have put more locations on dark tourism’s radar.

06. Prison Tourism

From the dawn of time, prisoners have been trying to get themselves out of prisons whereas, now, tourists are paying to get themselves in.  Prison tourism is, as the name applies, a tour that takes you into some of the most notorious prisons in the world. Some former prisons have also been resurrected as prison museums catching the attention of many tourists.

07. Paranormal Tourism

This type of dark tourism takes you to places that are allegedly ‘haunted’, has some kind of supernatural connection or to places where UFO sightings or abductions have taken place. It is ideal for believers of superstitions and myths who seek to find the meaning behind such activities or purely for amusement.

Dark Tourism
Dracula’s Castle

08. Cold War & Iron Curtain Tourism

This allows you to explore the ruins and relics of the cold war. You’ll be taken to popular attractions like the Berlin War Memorial where you will be able to better understand the history of these countries and their conflicts.

09. Dark Amusement Tourism

This type of dark tourism typically involves sites, attractions and tours that are purely entertainment-focused. Dark amusement tourism takes you to play centres or fun factories that are based on dark themes. For example; The Dungeons, Dracula Park, zombie chases, dark themed escape room etc. It can be considered as the lighter side of the dark tourism industry.

10. Murder Tourism

Murder tourism is for those who need to experience things up close and personal. This type of dark tourism takes you to the houses of murderers and serial killers and to the actual places where bodies were found. It may sound gruesome but it has caught the attention of many tourists across the world.

To put it in a nutshell, Dark tourism is an actual phenomenon that has gained much attention in all parts of the world. It is a way of experiencing first-hand, death and tragedy that occurred in the past to get a better understanding of the world. Whether you are visiting a cemetery, a haunted house, a war site or taking part in a zombie chase, it is clear that dark tourism sights are wide-ranging.

Dark tourism holidays have risen to fame with their intriguing stories and eerie events that rouse people to visit them. However, it is important to be respectful and know when and where to draw the line when visiting these places.

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