Dark tourism is a form of tourism where tourists visit sites that are only related to death and tragedy. For example, tourists may be willing to travel in Rwanda in order to witness what happened during the Rwanda genocide. In most cases, tourists who love dark tourism visit sites where violence, tragedy and deaths have occurred. However, the main reason why they travel to these sites is related to the historical value of the suffering of humanity. Although this is the case, dark tourism is known to affect the supply side and the demand side of the tourism industry.
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In the first place, it is believed that tourists who love dark tourism often get haunted with the happenings of such places. It is believed that such people get affected emotionally and psychologically because of these tragedies. For example, tourists who visited America after the 9/11 bombing and hurricane Katrina were emotionally disturbed with what had happened. This has received various outcries from different people who argue that the supply side benefit from the suffering of these tourists. Because of this, dark tourism is under criticism from various organizations and various critics (Lennon & Foley, 2000).
In some cases, the tourists who visit dark tourist sites may be influenced by other reasons apart from tourism. For example, this form of tourism is associated with exploitation where entrepreneurs like the news media gain from the reports obtained from the dark tourists. In addition, some may go to such places just to make money through reporting other people’s sufferings instead of helping them. There are also other entrepreneurial activities that are known to be related to this form of tourism at the expense of the society that is suffering because of the loss of their loved ones. Therefore, it is not ethical when tourists go to visit dark sites in the name of tourism, but gain from a society that needs help. In most cases, such individuals rarely come back to help the needy after their visits.
For the local community that has suffered from such happenings, it is believed that tourists only come to add to their grievances when such people should be comforted. It is argued that tourists who have these habits should be more concerned with helping the society with financial and moral support instead of going to disturb them during their trying times. The best example is when tourists visit countries that have just witnessed conflicts, which has left many dead. In such cases, tourists may get in the way of their effort to heal from the happening (Korstanje, 2011).
However, there are other arguments stating that dark tourism can be helpful if it is well coordinated between the society and the tourists. A good example is slum tourism that is witnessed in Mumbai where coordinated efforts are known to help both the tourists and the locals. Profits gained from this tourism are used for the society gain where suffering is reduced. In addition to this, when dark tourism is for religious reason, the tourists can help the locals spiritually by strengthening their faith and helping them to cope with the sad situations.
In conclusion, dark tourism is a form of tourism where tourists like to travel sites that are related to death, tragedy or loss. Dark tourism affects both the tourists and the society in various ways. However, this can be avoided if there is coordinated cooperation between the tourists and the suppliers.
Korstanje, M 2011. ‘Detaching the elementary forms of Dark Tourism’. Anatoli International. Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research. Vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 424-427.
Lennon, J. J., & Foley, M 2000. Dark tourism. Continuum, London.