About Akshara

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So far Akshara has created 2 entries.
8 03, 2012

Sydney: A Trip to Remember

By |March 8th, 2012|Australia, Field research, Master in Tourism Destination Management|0 Comments

To many people, Sydney is just another city. Located too far away for comfortable travel and virtually indistinguishable from any other urban metropolis, Sydney struggles to make itself heard and felt in between the melee of New York, the glamour of Paris and the inordinate chaos of the Mumbai. And hence to many, that’s where […]

25 11, 2011

Thanatourism and Dark Tourists: Why they Walk in the Shadows

By |November 25th, 2011|dark tourism, International Tourism Context, literature review, Master in Tourism Destination Management|2 Comments

This literature review is written by Akshara Walia as part of her NHTV Master in Tourism Destination Management.


Dark tourism- also known as ‘Thanatourism’- is a thriving phenomenon which has generated considerable interest within the tourism industry. The term was first coined by Foley and Lennon (Stone Sharpley, 2008), and has been generally described as “tourism involving locations associated with death and great suffering” (Gibson, 2006: pg. 47). This literature review will attempt to understand and analyse the various motivations and perceptions of tourists visiting these dark sites.

The fundamental motive for visiting dark sites is being explored in modern research. According to Stone and Sharpley, “visitors are seen to be driven by differing intensities of interest or fascination in death” (Stone Sharpley, 2008: pg 6). Hence, it can be perceived that visitor motivations are not homogenous.

The motivations of visitors can be further explored through the differentiation in degrees of dark tourism. Due to the varied and uniquely different nature of dark tourism products, the term dark tourism itself is vague and ambiguous (Stone, 2006).

The existing literature on the motivations for dark tourism is fragmented (Stone, 2011). To bridge the gaps in existing literature, a deeper insight is required relating to the definition of dark tourism itself.

Relating to this perspective, seven suppliers of dark tourism have been identified ranging from ‘light’ to ‘dark’ dark tourism (Stone, 2006). These were described as a “spectrum of supply outlined with a subsequent seven type categorisation of dark tourism suppliers” (Stone, 2006: Pg. 157). They include dark fun factories, dark exhibitions, dark dungeons, dark resting places, dark shrines, dark conflict sites and dark genocide camps. Thus a range of tourist experiences has been created from the lightest shades (haunted houses at amusement parks) to the darkest (Auschwitz). This sub categorization of dark tourism enables a broader perspective into the motivations of visitors depending on the ‘degree of darkness’. For example, the motivations of a tourist on a Jack the Ripper tour in London will differ from those of a tourist at the Killing Fields in Cambodia.