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Dark Tourism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1045 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The New Outlook of Dark Tourism

Anne Lamott, a best selling author quoted ‘Hope begins in the dark; the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.’ Dark tourism plays an important role in the tourism industry although it is a truly new branch of tourism and not many people are keen to take this as an option for their vacation. It is the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions and exhibitions, which have real or recreated death, suffering or the seemingly macabre as a main theme (Stone P.R, 2005). For example, a visit to a concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland and natural disaster such as the tsunami area in South East Asia. Dark tourism should be developed because it can provide economical value to the community affected and emotional benefits to those who are visiting.

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Firstly, dark tourism creates a new experience for tourists who seek for unusual adventure that are different from their everyday lives. Other tourism such as volunteerism and ecotourism are the common types of tourism. Sometimes it creates a dull vacation concept for people who are more open-minded and who would want to explore the world. It is also human nature to want to eyewitness the suffering of others, which forms from the curiosity of the mind. Dark tourism is an interesting tourism where visiting the concentration camps, battle sites and cemeteries can give the first hand experience of hardship through our very own eyes. Dark tourism is a multi-dimensional experience that can have a deep impact in life (Daams, 2007).

In addition, dark tourism also helps to generate income for the community, which is affected by the tragedy to rebuild itself. Tourists who visit these disaster locations are actually helping to bring in tourists dollars, which can help the locals. Without the tourist’s dollars coming in, it is harder for the locals to get back to their lives before the tragedy struck. For example in New Orleans, after the Hurricane Katrina, the city’s tourism figures dropped to 35 percent of what they were in 2004. A surge in tourism is vital for the city to successfully rebuild (Daams, 2007). Another place of disaster would be the Ground Zero in New York. There are tours, which allow groups to walk on the floor of the former World Trade Center for the adult price of $25 and children’s price of $15. While most of the visitors come to pay their respect, some would just like to view the progress on construction (Reed, n.d).

Furthermore, dark tourism provides emotional benefits to both the community and the tourist. As for the local community, dark tourism can be used for educational purposes where awareness and encouragement can be shown to younger generations. Auschwitz in Poland was listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and it is mandatory for all German schoolchildren to visit during their education (Kate n.d). By raising our awareness of horrific events in the past, dark tourism guides us to a sobering understanding of the world we live in (Daams, 2007). Besides that, in dark tourism we can remember those who died to fight for justice or for the good of the country and to show respect to them and their families (Kendle, n.d).

Some people may think that dark tourism actually gives a negative impact on the poor people’s well-being rather than improving their lives. Profits from the tourists were used for something else rather than helping these poor people to improve their standard of living. As stated by Swart, (2008), ‘Critics slate dabbling with the urban underbelly as exploitative, voyeuristic and an invasion of privacy. But slum tours are also praised for raising awareness of poverty and bringing tourism dollars to communities in need.’ There is a clear debate on this issue of organizing poverty tours, which is one of the categories that falls under dark tourism. To a certain degree, it may be right that tour operators uses these poor places to earn money, but most of the money generated from these tours are used to help the community in a proper way. According to Weiner, (2009) slum tourism can be a responsible tourism if it is done properly whereby pictures are not to be taken, tour in a smaller group, channel profits back into the slums and the advertisement for slum tours should not be bundle up together with adventure tourism.

Dark tourism gives a positive impact not only in the economical side of view but also in the emotional wellness of the residents and tourists. It can give new experiences to a tourist, generates income to help the community and it provides emotional benefits to both tourist and residents. Therefore, dark tourism should be converted into a responsible tourism by channeling money to proper places and to help rebuild the community after a disaster or just to improve their living standards. As quoted by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, ‘So we follow our wandering paths, and the very darkness acts as our guide and our doubts serve to reassure us.’

Bibliography list

Daams, Eric (2007) ‘Dark Tourism: Bearing Witness or Crass Spectacle? http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2007/10/10/dark-tourism-more-than-a-spectacle/ [accessed 20 October 2009]

Griffiths, Kate (n.d) ‘Ground Zero & the Phenomena of Dark Tourism’ http://www.pilotguides.com/destination_guide/north-america/new-york/ground_zero.php [accessed 20 October 2009]

Kendle, Amanda (n.d) ‘Grief Tourism: Straddling the Boundary Between Sympathy and Snooping’ http://www.vagabondish.com/grief-tourism-dark-travel-tours/ [accessed 20 October 2009]

Reed, Courtney (n.d) ‘Shedding Light on Dark Tourism’ http://www.gonomad.com/features/0704/dark-tourism.html [accessed 20 October 2009]

Swart, Genevieve (2008) ‘For richer, for poorer’ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/for-richer-for-poorer-20081113-65ak.html [accessed 26 October 2009]

Weiner, Eric (2009) ‘Slumming It: Can Slum Tourism Be Done Right?’ http://www.worldhum.com/features/eric-weiner/slum-tourism-the-responsible-way-20090312/ [accessed 27 October 2009]


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