Dark tourism 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. This is not a new phenomenon. For many years now dark tourism has been part of our fascination, dating back to the pilgrims. Now however we seek it for very different reasons. Most recently ‘Ground Zero’ in America, marking the collapse of the twin towers, has become an essential part of the ever expanding dark tourism sector.

Original article: Dark Tourism: A Fine Line Between Curiosity and Exploitation by The Travelzine for today’s Vagabond , Tuesday Edition / October 28, 2008

Essay by David Ekesong
Master in Tourism Destination Management student 2008/2009

The article refers to different types of tourism that may be categorized as dark tourism. The different types of dark tourism include Grief Tourism which is a kind of sightseeing that many of us have been doing naturally for years. Basically, you can define grief tourism as being when you travel somewhere to visit a scene of some tragic event; Disaster Tourism refers to an onslaught of visitors following some kind of natural disaster, such as those visiting south-east Asia following the 2004 tsunami crisis, or people travelling to New Orleans to see the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, are both examples of disaster tourism; Poverty Tourism which usually features tours to slum areas and poverty stricken towns; Suicide Tourism Which  generally takes two forms. The first involves people travelling to a particular destination with the intention of committing suicide, often by jumping from a famous landmark. Statistics prove that a significant proportion of suicide cases at well-known tourist attractions are tourists, although it’s not clear whether their trip was planned around this.

A second form of suicide tourism takes into account the various laws related to euthanasia in different countries. For example, in several European countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, active euthanasia is not illegal, and terminally-ill people sometimes travel there to end their life legally; Doomsday Tourism which has to do with the belief that the end of the world is coming,  Or at the very least, the end of certain tourist attractions is coming. Doomsday tourism refers to the thinking that you should hurry up and visit particular places which are under threat, usually as a result of environmental problems and globing warming.

While I have nothing against those who get involved in one form of dark tourism or another, I find it rather ironic that tourism which contributes enormously to emissions and thus global warming still grows in the wake of its own impact. In other words, the notion of global warming being a tourism attraction while tourism itself is contributing to the global warming phenomena is not only preposterous  but outrageous to say the least.