What is Dark Tourism? Why is it so Popular.

What is Dark Tourism? Why is it so Popular.

Dark tourism is also known as Black tourism or grief tourism. It sounds absolutely opposite to what an average traveller would want but still, it somehow manages to capture people's attention and draws them towards the dark side (pun intended)

As Kevin fox Gotham describes it perfectly " It is the circulation of people to places characterized by stress, atrocity, sadness and pain"
Dark tourism has always been a subject of great debate as it very much tinkers with our ethical and moral values.
Some popular destinations for dark tourism are:

  • Chernobyl (Ukraine): After the HBO Tv series Chernobyl aired an increase of 30% in tourists arrival was seen at the destination.


  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Japan): The site of the worst man made tragedy attracts more than 12 million tourists every year.

Hiroshima Atomic Dome

  • Auschwitz(Poland): Every year around 50 million people visit this abominable site. Eventually the Polish Government had to put a restriction on how many people can visit it annually.


  • Ground zero, New York (USA): The place of worst modern day disaster attracts 23 million tourists every year. 

Ground zero Memorial

  • Pompeii (Italy): Around 2 million people visit the abandoned ruins of Pompeii every year.

Pompeii and the infamous valcano

  • Berlin Wall (Germany): Once the symbol of divide attracts and unites over 1.1million tourists annually.

Graffiti on Berlin Wall

There are two aspects to dark tourism:

Educational : 

Often the existence of dark tourism is justified by the educational value it provides to the next generation. It helps us to learn from the history so as not to repeat the same mistakes.

E.g. The best example for educational point of view is the Hiroshima peace memorial. Every year around 323,000 students visit this site on college and school educational trips.


Using these sites just to make money is the very reason so many people raise questions against dark tourism.

E.g. In Bali travel companies start selling tickets and arranging for tourist vans as soon as they find someone died for the death and funeral rites.  

During their visits the tourists might do somethings without the intention of disrespecting or hurting someone. Therefore they should remember and be cautious about few following things.

Not to Do's:

  • Avoid making loud unrelated comments.
  • Avoid laughing and smiling all the time even if its unrelated.
  • Don't take photographs of people grieving at the site.
  • Not everything is on exhibit. Avoid touching and photographing everything especially if the site is inhibited by the locals. 

Conclusion: Dark tourism is still and will remain a controversial topic for a long time. It has to provide educational value rather than over commercializing the site. Its the only way to gain support and goodwill. In the end it all comes down to how it is implemented. 

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I am a PhD scholar and Assistant Professor of Tourism and Hospitality with 15 years of experience in the industry and academia. I love publishing content on Travelling, Tourism and Hotels.

Hospitality and Blockchain
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