Report on Tourism
Tourism can be defined as the temporary movement of people outside their normal place of work and residence, together with the activities undertaken during their stay at those destinations and the facilities created to cater for visiting tourists,
Tourism is distinguishable from travel undertaken in the past by its mass character, and is now not a luxury only for the upper classes.
Tourism is a luxury, with most people in the developed world and increasing numbers of people living in developing countries engaging in tourism at some time in their lives. Tourism is accepted and accustomed, and has become a good indicator of economic status and is considered necessary for good health and personal being.
Tourism is a productive activity that encompasses human behavior, use of resources, and interaction with other people, economies and environments. It involves physical movement of tourists to locations other than their normal place of living. It involves consumption of goods and services provided by organizations in the process, and generate a mass productive activity, employment and income.
Tourism is a highly complex productive activity. It involves the activities and interests not only of large transport undertakings, owners of tourist sites and attractions, and of various tourist services at the destination but also of all levels of government. Each of these serves the resident population and visitors. For countries delivering the tourist product it makes a significant contribution to GDP, employment, investment and FOREX earnings. It is a major catalyst for economic growth and structural change. It also diversifies employment prospects.
Tourism is dependant on a large number of economic activities supplying inputs to the industries that directly cater for tourists and producing consumer durables used for tourist activity.
Characteristics of tourism:
– Constantly operating industry, seasonal fluctuations
– Labor-intensive industry
– Lack of barriers to entry
– Small business predominates
– Important medium for educational and cultural exchange
– Sheer numbers
– Growing levels of consumer expenditure
– A few producers dominate
– New tourist attractions are regularly opening
– Mass tourist’s products have little differentiation.
– The impacts of tourism are broad ranging (economic, social, environmental)
Travel and tourism is the world largest industry. Western Europe and North America dominate global tourist flows. Total world tourism grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s at around 4% per annum. The range of destinations now encompasses virtually all countries in the developed world and many of those in the developing world. There has been spectacular growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Countries which are good destinations have sufficient environmental safeguards and a trained workforce.
Tourism has developed in many contexts. Modern mass tourism has origins in affluence of industrialized countries of West Europe, North America, and Japan. Tourism has also expanded significantly in East Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It has developed in liberal and western societies and in a variety of physical environments.
Tourism has also developed in a wide variety of physical environments, with many different environments within a country becoming favorable tourist destinations. These environments may include:
Factors affecting tourism
The tourism industry is multi faceted. Many components of tourism are inextricably bound to other economic sectors, and other forms of accommodation to commercial development. The spatial interaction that arises out of the tourist’s movement from origin to destination and factors affecting it lend themselves to analysis.
1. The biophysical and built environment
– A countries biophysical environment, cultural heritage and artistic life represent integral components of its tourist industry. Various types of tourism have differing requirements for favorable development and some countries will be more favorable for development than others.
– The industry is ultimately located according to the spatial distribution of attractions and access to them, which is largely determined by environmental factors. The tourist destination must offer tings the tourist seeks and needs.
– Tourist behavior patterns are influenced by environment conditions, and they may place constraints on types of developments. Natural characteristics are highly desirable and should complement infrastructure and attractions.
– Climate is a special consideration, and favorable weather conditions are essential. For each tourist activity there is an optimal climate, and climate often determines the length and profitability of the holiday season at a resort.
2. Technological change
– One of the most important variables affecting tourism is technological change. In the twentieth century, transport technology allowed the spread of mass tourism to a widespread array of destinations, which were previously not reachable by rail or ship.
– Manufacturers are constantly developing the capabilities of vehicles. Such developments influence places which can be reached, in terms of social and cost constraints.
– The development of wide-bodied long haul jets i.e. Boeing 747 was a major impetus to the growth of tourism.
3. Socio-cultural Influences
– Participation in tourism is affected by a number of demographic and social factors, such as age distribution, family life cycle, level of education, occupation structure, and population concentration. Demographic and social changes should profoundly affect the propensity of populations to indulge in tourism in the future.
– Increased life expectancy and changing workforce composition is also important. Increasing participation rates of women have provided a boost to tourism, because two income families have higher discretionary income. There is also a growing number of DINK’s who frequently travel.
4. Economic factors
– Tourism is among the strongest performing sectors of the global economy. Tourism is a major source of employment with the provision of accommodation, catering, transport, entertainment and other service industries important. There is also an enormous amount of productive activity generated indirectly by tourism. It is an important instrument for facilitating economic growth because of its wide multiplier effects.
– Tourism is Australia contributes 17.3Bn in export earnings to the Australian economy.
– Changing economic circumstances largely determine the magnitude of the tourist industry. With higher levels of development, the employment structure changes, and a more affluent society creates a demand for tourists products.
5. Cultural influences
– Features of historical or cultural interest exert a powerful attraction for tourists. Three major forms of culture attract visitors:
– Forms of culture that are inanimate such as monuments
– Forms of culture reflected in the normal daily lives of a destination
– Forms of culture at are especially animated and may involve events such as festivals.
– Tourism is often accompanied by cultural exchanges and cultural enrichment. These contacts can have harmful effects where native cultures and traditional ways of life are weakened or destroyed.
6. Political influences
– Governments at all levels and of all persuasions have recognized that while tourism is basically private sector, its impact requires government involvement.
– Government profoundly affects the economic climate in which tourism operates. The government’s principal role is to foster the development of the industry that can best prosper consistent with broad economic, social and environmental objectives.
The relationship between production and consumption
Tourism as a productive activity consists of three major components: the country of origin of tourists; destinations; and routes traveled between locations.
1. Tourism generating areas
Represent homes of tourists. These areas represent the main tourist markets in the world and major marketing functions of tourism are found here.
2. Tourism destination areas
Attract tourists by offering what isn’t available at home.
Transit routes link these two areas of productive activity and are key elements. They are the main transport component of productive activity.
As tourists travel they acquire an experience made up of many different parts. These activities are extremely interdependent.
The changing nature of the production process
The growth of tourism throughout the twentieth century was closely associated with rising living standards in the developed world. In the first half of the twentieth century the opportunity to travel remained largely the privilege of the wealthier people in society, but periods of rapid growth following WW2 enabled more people to travel. The car and aircraft became the main mode of transport.
A number of important changes are associated with the development on the industry:
- Internationalization of tourism
Tourism has become globalised. The global transportation infrastructure is rapidly becoming an interconnected pathway all over the world. The level of globalization has increased as more countries participate in international travel.
- Organizational developments
The organization of tourism comes from two sources: the government and private sectors.
Recognizing the contribution tourism makes towards a countries economic and social well being nearly all governments have organizations to promote tourism. The extents of their responsibilities vary.
The opportunities which exist in tourism give rise to a mix of large and small scale operations catering for all the tourist needs from origin to destination. As with other productive activities there has been a significant growth of corporate involvement in tourism. Much of the growth in large tourism companies arises from the very competitive nature of many tourist markets and destinations and a drive for greater market share and economies of scale.
Different impacts of tourism
Social Impacts of tourism
Tourism is driven by individual consumer decisions.
The package tour is sold for an all inclusive price, and this is usually cheaper bringing holidays in reach of a much larger section of the market. Consumers have a wise variety of choice. Contiki tours are a good example of a company catering for 18-35 year olds world wide. Contiki has an arrangement with Cathay Pacific.
Small group tours
Small group tours are a popular alternative. They utilize local resources and services wherever possible.
Many tourists are actively planning their own travel experience. They prefer to individualize their own itinerary rather than be locked into a group tour. Experienced travelers are seeking to fulfill specific desires. This reflects the desire of travelers for new and different experiences. More specialized demands has seen tourism as a productive activity respond.
Economic impacts of tourism
Increasing the scale of production
The profit motive has encouraged development of large scale operations and an increase in the size of the companies involved. Increasing scale is especially evident in the accommodation sector. The scale of operations in the hotel sector continues to expand. While large hotel chains can exploit economies of scale, the small independents can compete on the basis of cost, and personalized service.
Horizontal and vertical integration
Growth in the scale of production and increases in the concentration of ownership and control have generally come about through horizontal and vertical integration. A business may expand or develop by itself or seek to combine with other businesses.
Integration in tourism has continued to point where operations become multinational or transnational in nature. The pattern of multinational development varies. Clearly a global marketplace provides greater market potential and opportunities to secure a competitive advantage. Companies wishing to diversify their portfolio will expand activities overseas.
Technological impacts of tourism
Tourism receives substantial research funds to facilitate the development of new technology. They change every area of this productive activity.
Tourist motivation and decision making are increasingly shaped by changing technology. The Internet has allowed a wealth of information to become available to tourists. Hotel facilities, reservations, and attractions to name a few.
Future developments in aircraft will favor larger capacity aircraft, but still subsonic speed. The amount of power to propel aero-planes increases with speed. Therefore new aircraft are unlikely to travel any faster than existing, but they will have a greater range and more seating reducing the costs of travel.
Transport is now faster and more competitive over long trips. This has come hand in hand with infrastructure development.
The cruise industry is growing particularly fast. The world’s cruise fleet has doubled in the last decade of the 20th century.
Keeping track of people and possessions
Computerization allows transport operators to work more efficiently, and generates a wealth of data which can be used for planning marketing activities. Global satellite networks have provided powerful new marketing tools. Technology has transformed the distribution process.
Political impacts of tourism
Most governments now actively seek to promote tourism to and within their countries and take steps to coordinate public and private tourism activities and to foster industry growth. Government support has been less forthcoming in some parts of the developed world. In many developing countries tourism is seen as a way of accelerating economic development. Some governments have also encouraged the development of international tourism to further their own political objectives.
The changing political and economic environment
– Collapse of the soviet union and opening up Eastern Europe
– Switch from centralized economies to free market economies in China and India
– Creation of NAFTA
The nature of government involvement
Primary contribution of governments is to promote tourism both to and within their country. The most direct means is to establish tourism organizations to influence the path of tourism development. Australia’s ministry of tourism carries out this role, and its goals include:
– Provide government with a clear statement for future development of industry
– Enhance community awareness of economic, environmental and cultural significance of tourism.
Facilitating visitor entry
Ease of access to a country is a key factor in attracting tourists. If visitor entry formalities are complicated tourism will suffer. Some countries now have visa free arrangements with certain countries.
The availability, pricing and ease of transport dictates the flow of tourists both within and between countries. The distribution of transport also influences the level of dispersal of tourists. Governments are generally responsible for the provision of transportation infrastructure and equipment. Many airlines have entered into alliances that enable them to reduce costs and increase passenger load. Governments are under pressure to deregulate international airlines further.
General economic policy
Government policies have direct and indirect implications. For example policies imposes when governments are grappling with high levels of inflation can reduce disposable incomes thereby limiting spending on tourism. Government taxes, chares and levies increase costs to tourists.
Environmental and social impacts of tourism
Two major issues threaten the long term survival of tourism: environmental degradation; and undesirable social impacts, which often accompany the growth of tourism.
Tourism and the environment
Tourist developments tend to be located near attractive or unique features of the biophysical environment. Exploitation for tourism often places a heavy strain on such natural resources. The greatest threat is to those which are most vulnerable to natural and human-induced stress.
Tourism can contribute to:
– A deterioration of air and water supplies
– Destruction of natural landscape
– Damage to vegetation
– Threats to wildlife
The challenge is to develop procedures to assess the potential environmental impacts of tourism related developments. Other mechanisms available to address the impact of tourism are regulations, the establishment and management of national parks, preservation of significant heritage sites, and enactment of legislation that helps conserve our cultural and natural resources.
The link between tourism development and environmental protection is critical for the future success of this productive activity. Uncontrolled development could well destroy attraction to visitors. With adequate planning by government the threat that environmental degradation poses to global tourism can be overcome.
Tourism is the world largest productive activity. It is embraced by governments as a result of its potential source of income and employment. The future pace and directions of tourisms explosive growth will be determined by:
Propensity to travel will remain closely aligned to prevailing economic conditions.
As transport technology makes long hauls more affordable, more people will be able to participate in international travel. Destinations chosen will reflect perceived security.
Tourists will be drawn to destinations which best meets their needs. The tourism industry is attempting to provide travel experiences to meet every budget and situation.
Technology will continue to develop and enhance the tourism experience. Market research will lead operators to promote new tourist products.
– It is likely there will be few barriers to international travel. Tourists will be courted by both the developed and developing countries, for the economic developments.
– Those involved in tourism will have to assume greater responsibility. Both the tourist experience and host population should be considered as does environmental quality.
– A basic strategy in tourism development is to retain and preserve the aspects that set a destination apart. Environmental codes of ethics and development guidelines should be implemented to keep tourism sustainable and viable in the coming century.
– As national boarders open up, the population ages and becomes more affluent, and tourism is promoted increasing numbers of people will travel.
– As a productive activity, tourisms importance within the global economy will continue to grow.
Classification of tourism
Child sex tourism
Militarism heritage tourism
Introducing Dark Tourism
Deaths, disasters and atrocities in touristic form are becoming an increasingly pervasive feature within the contemporary tourism landscape. Indeed, the seemingly macabre within tourism includes people gazing upon former sites of war and battle, whereby organised violence is brought back to life by tour guides offering accounts of heroism, tragedy and personal torment. Similarly, the present day ‘tourist’ can take in Ground Zero, the site of mass murder and carnage on September 11, whilst on a trip to the Big Apple. Other examples of this death-related tourism include excursionists sightseeing in the ruins of New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina), day-trippers touring the Gulags of the former Soviet Union, and visitors purchasing an ‘atrocity experience’ at former genocide sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or the Killing Fields of Cambodia.
Consequently, the phenomenon by which people visit, purposefully or as part of a broader recreational itinerary, the diverse range of sites, attractions and exhibitions which offer a (re)presentation of death, suffering and the macabre is ostensibly growing within contemporary society. Indeed, it is this seemingly proliferation of ‘tourists’ gazing upon death and ‘other’ suffering that has ushered in the rather emotive label of ‘dark tourism’ into academic discourse.
Dark tourism, the generic term for travel associated with death, tragedy and disaster has, over the past few years, witnessed increasing attention from the academic community and media alike. As a result, the area of dark tourism has become a fascinating and important subject to research, both with its implications for the tourism industry, in addition to exploring fundamental relationships with the wider cultural condition of society. Nevertheless, to date, the dark tourism literature remains both eclectic and theoretically fragile. That is, various gaps in our knowledge of dark tourism remain, despite an increasingly number of academics who are beginning to turn their attention to this intriguing research area.
Indeed, many questions remain unanswered about both the production and consumption of dark tourism. Those questions often revolve around visitor typologies, consumption and the motivational drivers of ‘dark tourists’. Importantly, questions are now being raised about the role and influence of contemporary society, and in particular, the nature of death and dying upon dark tourism consumption.
In addition, dark tourism sites, attractions and exhibitions often present governing bodies and managers with complex moral and ethical dilemmas. Other issues surround the dynamics of commercial development and exploitation, the nature of political heritage and ideology, the act of remembrance, and the role of the media in reporting dark tourism. These issues are often compounded by the extent and type of interpretation and representation employed at ‘dark sites’.
Consequently, dark tourism raises questions about appropriate political and managerial responses to the range of experiences perceived by visitors, local residents, victims and their relatives.
Hence, dark tourism is a fascinating, provocative and emotive concept and requires much more research in order to address some of the issues raised here. However that task is now well underway.
There are an increasingly number of death-related visitor sites, attractions and exhibitions, often trading under the guise of remembrance, education and/or entertainment, which attract people eager to consume real and commodified death. Indeed, the act of touristic travel to sites of death, disaster and the macabre is becoming a pervasive cultural activity within contemporary society. From visiting Nazi death camps in eastern Europe as part of a wider holiday itinerary, to enjoying family picnics on battlefields of northern France, or purchasing souvenirs of genocide at Ground Zero, to allowing schoolchildren to gaze upon tools of torture from yesteryear at the London Dungeon, are all illustrations of the seemingly macabre. Consequently, the term ‘dark tourism’ (also know as ‘thanatourism’) has entered academic discourse and media parlance. Essentially dark tourism refers to visits, intentional or otherwise, to purposeful / non-purposeful sites which offer a presentation of death or suffering as the raison d’être (Stone 2005). Likewise, Tarlow (2005:48) identifies dark tourism as ‘visitations to places where tragedies or historically noteworthy death has occurred and that continue to impact our lives’.
Of course, travel to and experience of events associated with death, pain or suffering is not a new phenomenon. Whilst religious pilgrimages, for emotional and spiritual reasons, have attracted people to sites of death and violence for centuries, tourists have long been drawn, intentionally or otherwise, to death-related attractions. Early examples may be found in the patronage of Roman gladiatorial games, public executions of the medieval period, guided morgue tours in Victorian Britain, or the early Chamber of Horrors exhibitions of Madame Tussaud’s.
Presently however, dark tourism is manifested in various forms and subsets. These include Holocaust tourism, battlefield tourism, cemetery tourism, slavery-heritage tourism and prison tourism. It is only recently that dark tourism, in its various shades, has become widespread and seemingly more popular. Whilst it remains unclear as to whether the proliferation of dark tourism is due to an increased supply of attractions and sites, or whether consumers are demanding more and more of the macabre, media inspired or otherwise, death in touristic form is an increasing feature of the contemporary landscape.
Consequently, research within dark tourism is growing and is attracting greater attention from the academic community and media alike. A particularly complex issue revolves around consumption of dark tourism and the motivational drivers of ‘dark tourists’. The question of why people visit such dark sites is intriguing and presents emotive and controversial ideas. Do people, within contemporary society, visit such places out of respect and remembrance? Or do people take a secret pleasure in gazing upon the macabre? Do we contemplate our own mortality at such attractions and exhibitions? Have people a morbid curiosity which triggers the ghoul in us? What is the role of the media and the wider socio-cultural influences upon dark tourism consumption? These questions and many more beside remain, by and large, unanswered.
Types of Dark Tourism
1. Witness (war chasing, tornado following)
2. Death Sites (Kennedy, Martin Luther King)
3. Visiting Cemeteries/Internment Sites, Memorials
4. Visiting Museums & Exhibitions (Tussauds, Edinburgh Dungeon, Secret Bunker)
5. Re-enactment/Staged Events
World Famous Dark Sites
1. Taj Mahal
2. The Pyramids
4. Xian Terracotta warriors
5. KZ Auschwitz Birkenau
6. Dallas 6th Floor
Dark Tourism era:
Ancient – Pilgrimage and Crusades, viewing London executions, battles Waterloo 1815
Modern – tourism as a rational and educative, from Grand Tour to Museums interpreting war / atrocity so that reoccurrence will be minimized
Post Modern – Role of Global Communications, collapsing space and time – catalyst to interest in sites
DARK TOURISM: DEFINITIONS AND PERSPECTIVES
The term ‘dark tourism’ was first coined by Foley and Lennon (1996a,b), subsequently becoming the title of a book that, arguably, remains the most widely cited study of the phenomenon (Lennon and Foley 2000). Their work was not however the first to focus upon the relationship between tourism and death, whether violent, untimely or otherwise. Sites associated with war and atrocities have long been considered within a broader heritage tourism context, particularly from an interpretative perspective. For example, Uzell (1992) argues for the ‘hot’ interpretation of war and conflict (interpretation that is as intense or passionate as the site/event), whilst Tunbridge and Ashworth’s (1996) subsequent work on ‘dissonant heritage’ develops an important conceptual framework for the management of such sites. More recently, Wight and Lennon (2007) examine selective interpreta- tion within particular dark heritage sites in Lithuania, suggesting that ‘moral complexities’ ensure important epochs of history remain unchallenged and un-interpreted in the nations’ collective commemoration of the past. Similarly, Muzaini et al (2007) address historical accuracy and interpretation at Singapore’s Fort Siloso, arguing that dark tourism privileges the ‘visual’ and ‘experiential’ over the need for historical rigour.
However, Rojek (1993) first introduced the notion of dark attractions with the concept of ‘Black Spots’, or ‘the commercial [touristic] developments of grave sites and sites in which celebrities or large numbers of people have met with sudden and violent death’ (1993:136). Interestingly, Rojek commences his analysis by referring to the hordes of sightseers flocking to the sites of disasters, such as the shores of Zeebrugge in 1987 (the capsizing of the ferry Herald of Free Enterprise) and Lockerbie, Scotland (the crash site of Pan Am 103) in 1988, before going on to discuss three different examples of Black Spots—the annual pilgrimage to the place where James Dean died in a car crash in 1955, the (again) annual candlelight vigil in memory of Elvis Presley at Graceland in Tennessee and the anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. These he refers to as postmodern spectacles, repeated reconstructions that are dependent on modern audio-visual media for their continued popularity. Other attractions, such as national and metropolitan cemeteries, are categorized as ‘nostalgic’ sites and it is only later that he goes on to distinguish disaster sites as being ‘analytically distinct from Black Spots as sensation sites’ (Rojek 1997, 63). A similar distinction is made by Blom (2000:32) who defines ‘morbid tourism’ as, on the one hand, tourism that ‘focuses on sudden death and which quickly attracts large numbers of people’ and, on the other hand, ‘an attraction-focused artificial morbidity-related tourism’. Thus, the concept is at once rendered more complex by a number of variables.
First, the immediacy and spontaneity of ‘sensation’ tourism to death and disaster sites may be compared with premeditated visits to organized sites or events related to near and/or distant historical occurrences. Second, a distinction exists between purposefully constructed attractions or experiences that interpret or recreate events or acts associated with death, and ‘accidental’ sites (sites, such as graveyards or memorials, that have become attractions ‘by accident’). Third, it is unclear to what extent an ‘interest’ in death is the dominant reason for visiting dark attractions. Finally, questions may be raised about why and how dark sites/experiences are produced or supplied—for example, for political purposes, for education, for entertainment or for economic gain (Ashworth and Hartmann 2005; Stone 2006). These issues are considered shortly but, for Foley and Lennon, the term ‘dark tourism’ relates primarily to ‘the presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites’ (1996a:198); a broad definition later refined by their assertion that dark tourism is ‘an intimation of post-modernity’ (Lennon and Foley 2000:11). That is, firstly and reflecting Rojek’s (1993) position, interest in and the interpretation of events associated with death is largely dependent on the ability of global communication technology to instantly report them and, subsequently, repeat them ad infinitum.
Secondly, they claim that most dark tourism sites challenge the inherent order, rationality and progress of modernity (as does the concept of postmodernity) and, thirdly, at most sites, the boundaries between the message (educational, political) and their commercialization as tourist products has become increasingly blurred. Consequently, attractions based on events that neither took place ‘within the memories of those still alive to validate them’ (Lennon and Foley 2000:12) nor induce a sense of anxiety about modernity do not qualify. Thus, for these authors, dark tourism is a chronologically modern (twentieth century onwards), primarily Western phenomenon based upon (for reasons they do not justify) non-purposeful visits due to ‘serendipity, the itinerary of tour companies or the merely curious who happen to be in the vicinity’ (2000:23). As Reader (2003) suggests, this general lack of attention to motivation and, in particular, a reluctance to accept that tourists may positively desire ‘dark’ experiences, is a significant oversight.
In contrast, Seaton (1996) argues that dark tourism has a long history, emerging from what he refers to as a ‘thanatoptic tradition’ (the contemplation of death) that dates back to the Middle Ages but that intensified during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with visits to, for example, the battlefield of Waterloo (Seaton 1999). He proposes that thanatourism is the ‘travel dimension of thanatopsis’, defined as ‘travel to a location wholly, or partially, motivated by the desire for actual or symbolic encounters with death, particularly, but not exclusively, violent death’ (Seaton 1996:240). Importantly, he also suggests that thanatourism is essentially a behavioural phenomenon defined by tourists’ motives, and that a ‘continuum of intensity’ exists dependent upon the differing motives for visiting a site and the extent to which the interest in death is general or person-specific. Thus, visits to disaster sites, such as Ground Zero (Lisle 2004), are a ‘purer’ form of thanatourism (as long as the visitor was not related to a victim) than, say, visiting the grave of a dead relative. There are also, according to Seaton (1996:240–2), just five possible categories of dark travel activity, including: to witness public enactments of death; to sites of individual or mass deaths; to memorials or internment sites; to see symbolic representations of death; and, to witness re-enactments
of death. Given the difficulty in attaching an all-embracing label to the enormous diversity of dark sites, attractions and experiences, attempts have also been made to identify different forms or intensities of dark tourism.
For example, Miles (2002) proposes that a distinction can be made between ‘dark’ and ‘darker’ tourism based upon the location of the site or attraction. Arguing that there is a difference between sites associated with and sites of death, disaster and suffering, then ‘journey/ excursion/pilgrimage to the latter constitutes a further degree of empathetic travel: ‘darker tourism’’ (Miles 2002:1175). Thus, a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau is, according to Miles, ‘darker’ than one to he US Holocaust Memorial in Washington DC. Moreover, extending is analysis into the temporal dimension (and lending credence to Lennon and Foley’s ‘chronological distance’ argument), he suggests that ‘darkest tourism’ emerges where the spatial advantage of a site of death is amplified by either the recentness of events (i.e. within recent iving memory of visitors) or where past events are transported in ive memory through technology. Importantly, underpinning Miles’ argument is the assumption that a dark tourism experience requires empathy/emotion on the part of the visitor—such empathy is heightened by the spatial-temporal character of the site. Similarly, Sharpley (2005) suggests that, based upon differing intensities of purpose with respect to both supply and demand, different ‘shades’ of dark tourism may be identified. Dependent on both the degree of interest or fascination in death on the part of the tourist and on the extent to which an attraction is developed in order to exploit that interest or fascination, different sites/experiences may be either ‘paler’ or ‘darker’. Thus, darkest or black tourism occurs where a fascination with death is provided for by the purposeful supply of experiences intended to satisfy this fascination, one example being the $65 per person Flight 93 Tour’ to the Pennsylvania crash site of United Airlines 93—one of the 9/11 hijacked aircraft—established and run by a local armer (Bly 2003). The concept of different shades is also explored by tone (2006), who proposes a ‘spectrum of supply’ ranging from the ‘darkest’ to the ‘lightest’ forms of dark tourism. He highlights seven broad categories of ‘suppliers’ characterized by a variety of spatial, temporal, political and ideological factors which, in turn, determine a perceived intensity of ‘darkness’ within any given dark tourism product Again, however, the fundamental motivational issue remains largely unanswered. In other words, despite the variety of perspectives on dark tourism in the literature, the question of why tourists seek out such dark sites has attracted limited attention. Generally, visitors are seen to be driven by differing intensities of interest or fascination in death, in the extreme hinting at tasteless, ghoulish motivations. More specific reasons vary from morbid fascination or ‘rubber-necking’, through empathy with the victims, to the need for a sense of survival/continuation, untested factors which, arguably, demand verification within a
psychology context. Equally, no attempt has been made to explore dark tourism consumption within a sociological framework and, in particular, its fundamental relationship with the death process (Stone 2005b). It is to this that this paper now turns by exploring death and its contemplation in contemporary societies as a basis for developing a model of dark tourism consumption within a thanatological framework.
Dark tourism demand and supply
Needless to say, no analysis of dark tourism supply can be complete if tourist behaviour and demand for the dark tourism product are not acknowledged. Indeed, it is crucial to the understanding of this phenomenon that an ability to extract and interrogate the motives of so-called dark tourists exists. This is particularly so within a variety of social, cultural and geographical contexts. It is perhaps this fundamental requirement of nderstanding the underside’ and extricating onsumer motivation that is propelling the current darktourism debate (Stone 2005a).
Nevertheless, the purpose of this paper is to address, though not necessarily solve, the issue of dark tourism from a supply perspective, which in turn will lay a theoretical underpinning in order to better explore consumer demand. It could be argued of course, that dark tourism is simply a manifestation of consumer demand. As such, Seaton (1996) suggests dark tourism is essentially a behavioural phenomenon, defined by tourist’s motives as opposed to particular characteristics of a site or attraction.
However, Seaton’s view rather restricts dark tourism to a demand orientated phenomenon, whilst overlooking important supply aspects. Consequently, Sharpley (2005) suggests it remains unclear as to whether the dark tourism phenomenon is attraction-supply driven or indeed consumer-demand driven. Thus he argues it is important to consider both demand and supply elements in attempting to construct any framework of this phenomenon.
Whilst the author indeed accepts this notion, complex demand motivators for the dark tourism product are explored elsewhere, especially with regard to consumer experiences of dark tourism and the meaning of death and dying within contemporary society (Stone and Sharpley forthcoming). Importantly therefore, prior to the more fundamental task of extracting and interrogating consumer demand, the need to appreciate dark tourism supply more fullyis evident.
As a diverse and fragmented set of dark tourism suppliers exists, so equally diverse are the motives of tourists who visit and consume these products.
However, the argument is that before one can systemically address the fundamental question of why people visit such places, a recognised and structured framework of dark tourism supply is required to aid the identification, and subsequent research of potential visitors and their experiences to these dark tourism products. Firstly however, it is necessary, through a brief review of the literature, to draw together extant concepts and knowledge of dark tourism as a basis for subsequent discussions.
CONSUMING DARK TOURISM: A Thanatological Perspective
Travel to and experience of places associated with death is not a new phenomenon. People have long been drawn, purposefully or otherwise, towards sites, attractions or events linked in one way or another with death, suffering, violence or disaster (Stone 2005a; Seaton, Forthcoming). The Roman gladiatorial games, pilgrimages or attendance at medieval public executions were, for example, early forms of such death-related tourism whilst, as Boorstin (1964) alleges, the first guided tour in England was a train trip to witness the hanging of two murderers. Similarly, MacCannell (1989) notes visits to the morgue were a regular feature of nineteenth century tours of Paris, perhaps a forerunner to the ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibitions in London, Tokyo and elsewhere that, since the late 1990s, have attracted visitors in their tens of thousands (Bodyworlds 2006).
It is also a phenomenon that, over the last century, has become both widespread and diverse. Smith (1998:205), for example, suggests that sites or destinations associated with war probably constitute ‘the largest single category of tourist attractions in the world’ (also, Henderson 2000), yet war-related attractions, though diverse, are a subset of the totality of tourist sites associated with death and suffering (Dann 1998; Stone 2006). Reference is frequently made either to specific destinations, such as the Sixth Floor in Dallas, Texas (Foley and Lennon 1996a) or to forms of tourism, such as graveyards (Seaton 2002), the holocaust (Beech 2000), atrocities (Ashworth and Hartmann 2005), prisons (Strange and Kempa 2003; Wilson 2004), or slavery-heritage tourism (Dann and Seaton 2001). However, such is the diversity of death-related attractions from the ‘Dracula Experience’ in Whitby, UK or Vienna’s Funeral Museum to the sites of ‘famous’ deaths (Alderman 2002), or major disasters (for example, Ground Zero), that a full categorization is extremely complex (but, see Dann 1998; Stone 2006).
Despite the long history and increasing contemporary evidence of travel to sites or attractions associated with death (Perry 2007), it is only relatively recently that academic attention has been focused upon what has been collectively referred to as ‘dark tourism’ (Foley and Lennon 1996b; Lennon and Foley 2000). In particular, a number of attempts have been made to define or label death-related tourist activity, such as ‘thanatourism’ (Seaton 1996), ‘morbid’ (Blom 2000), ‘black-spot’ (Rojek 1993) or, as Dann (1994:61) alliterates, ‘milking the macabre’. Additionally, attempts have been made to analyse specific manifestations of dark tourism, from war museums adopting both traditional and contemporary museology methods of (re)presentation (Wight and Lennon 2004), to genocide commemoration visitor sites and the political ideology attached to such remembrance (Williams 2004). Attention has also been focused, though to a lesser extent, on visitor motivations to seek out such sites or experiences, (Tarlow 2005; Wight 2005), including proposed ‘drivers’ which vary from morbid curiosity, through schadenfreude (Seaton and Lennon 2004), to a collective sense of identity or survival ‘in the face of violent disruptions of collective life routines’ (Rojek 1997, 61).
Nevertheless, the literature remains eclectic and theoretically fragile. That is, a number of fundamental issues remain, not least whether it is actually possible or justifiable to categorize collectively the experience of sites or attractions that are associated with death or suffering as ‘dark tourism’. More specifically, it remains unclear whether dark tourism is demand or supply driven or, more generally, the manifestation of what has been referred to as a (post)modern propensity for ‘mourning sickness’ (West 2004) or what has been termed ‘grief tourism’ (O’Neill 2002). Other questions are also raised, but go unanswered. For example, has there indeed been a measurable growth in ‘tourist interest in recent death, disaster and atrocity . . . in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries’ (Lennon and Foley 2000:3) or is there simply an ever-increasing supply of dark sites and attractions? Are there degrees or ‘shades of darkness’ that can be related to either the nature of the attraction or the intensity of interest in death or the macabre on the part of tourists (Miles 2002; Stone 2006; Strange and Kempa2003)? And, does the popularity of dark sites result from a basic fascination with death, or are there more powerful motivating factors and, if so, what ethical issues surround the exploitation of tragic history (Lennon 2005)?
In order to address many of these questions it is necessary to possess some understanding of tourist behaviour with respect to dark sites and attractions. In other words, the analysis of dark tourism cannot be complete without a consideration of why tourists may be drawn towards sites or experiences associated with death and suffering. As noted above, a variety of motives are proposed in the literature, most comprehensively by Dann (1998) who identifies eight influences, including: the fear of phantoms (i.e. overcoming childlike fears); the search for novelty; nostalgia; the celebration of crime or deviance; basic bloodlust; and, at a more practical level, ‘dicing with death’—that is, undertaking journeys, or ‘holidays in hell’ (O’Rourke 1988; Pelton 2003), that challenge tourists or heighten their sense of mortality. However, as Dann (1998) accepts, these categorizations are largely descriptive and may be related more to specific attractions, destinations or activities rather than individuals’ motivations. Conversely, Krakover’s (2005) study of the attitudes of tourists at the Yad Vashem Holocaust commemoration site in Israel considers, to a limited extent, visitor motives. Nevertheless, much of the literature remains supply-side focused whilst the motivation(s) for dark tourism has yet to be revealed and systematically interrogated (Stone 2005b; Seaton and Lennon 2004).
The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to address this gap in the literature.
Drawing upon contemporary sociological theory related to death and grief in modern societies, it seeks to establish a theoretical foundation for exploring the consumption of dark tourism experiences. More specifically, it proposes a thanatological paradigm of the relationship between contemporary socio-cultural perspectives on death and mortality, consequential responses to the inevitability of human mortality, and the potential role of dark tourism consumption in confronting death and dying. In so doing, it establishes a basis for subsequent theoretical and empirical research into dark tourism in particular, whilst contributing to the contemporary sociology of death more generally. First, however, it is necessary to review briefly the extant literature as a framework for the subsequent discussion.
Death and contemporary society
Sociology has been traditionally concerned almost exclusively with the problems of life, rather than with the subject of death (Mellor and Shilling 1993). However, Berger’s (1967) seminal text suggested death is an essential feature of the human condition, requiring individuals to develop mechanisms to cope with their ultimate demise.
According to Berger, to neglect death is to ignore one of the few universal parameters in which both the collective and individual self is constructed (Berger 1967). Hence, although death and the discussion of death within the public realm was once considered taboo (DeSpelder and Strickland 2002; Leming and Dickinson 2002; Mannino 1997), or at least proclaimed to be taboo (Walter 1991), commentators are now challenging death taboos, exploring contexts where the dead share the world with the living. In particular, Harrision (2003) examines how the dead are absorbed into the living world by graves, images, literature, architecture and monuments. Similarly, Lee (2002) reviews the disenchantment of death in modernity and, suggesting that death s making its way back into social consciousness, concludes that the ime has come to dissect death without prejudice. He goes on to advocate hat death is ‘coming out of the closet to redefine our assumptions f life’ (2004:155), thus breaking the modern silence (and taboo) on eath.
Therefore, although the inevitability of death continues to be disavowed, particularly in contemporary society, it can never be completely denied (Tercier 2005). Indeed, contemporary society increasingly consumes, willingly or unwillingly, both real and commodified death and suffering through audio-visual representations, popular culture and the media. Of course, ‘contemporary society’, or the cultural framework within which (Western) individuals construct coping mechanisms to deal with human finitude, is itself a contested term, particularly within sociological discourse relating to modernity and post-modernity (Lee 2006).
According to Giddens (1990; 1991), however, it is misleading to interpret contemporary societies as evidence of a radically new type of social world, whereby the characteristics of modernity have been left behind. He suggests that social life is still being forged by essentially modern concerns, even though it is only now that the implications of these are becoming apparent. Moreover, a Giddensian perspective points in particular to a significant characteristic of contemporary society that can be correlated with death and mortality: namely, an individual’s perceived erosion of personal meaningfulness and rational order which, in turn, is often propelled by the privatization of meaning and sequestration of death within public space. At the same time, when discussing mortality and its contemplation, a critical feature of Western society may be seen in the extensive desacralisation of social life which has failed to replace religious certainties with scientific certainties (Giddens 1991).
Whilst the negation of religion and an increased belief in science may have provided people the possibility of exerting a perceived sense of control over their lives (though, crucially, it has not conquered death), it fails to provide values to guide lives (after Weber 1948), leaving individuals vulnerable to feelings of isolation, especially when contemplating death and an end to life projects. Hence, that the ‘secularization of life should be accompanied by the secularization of death should come as no surprise: to live in the modern is to die in it also’ (Tercier 2005:13).
Further to this, Giddens (1991) suggests a privatization of meaning in contemporary society, where both experience and meaning have been relocated from public space to the privatized realms of an individual’s life. Consequently, this has served both to both reduce massively the scope of the sacred and to leave increasing numbers of individuals alone with the task of establishing and maintaining values to guide them and make sense of their daily lives. Ultimately, therefore, people require a sense of order and continuity in relation to their daily social lives, to which Giddens (1990; 1991) refers to as ‘ontological security’
Making absent death present: Dark Tourism
Neutralization and de-sequestration
The social neutralization of death, which may be considered a means
of bracketing dread and boosting ontological security, can help to assuage
the disruptive impact of death for the individual. At the same time, dark tourism, as reviewed above, is an increasingly pervasive feature in the popular cultural landscape (e.g. Atkinson 2005). Indeed, depending upon the social, cultural and political context (Stone 2006) it may be considered fascinating, educational or even humorous. However, whilst the consumption of death appears to be in inverse ratio to our declining direct experience of death itself, dark tourism, within a thanatological framework, may help explain contemporary approaches to mortality and its contemplation and vice versa. The manner in which this may occur is summarised in the conceptual model in Figure 1. Drawing on the preceding death sequestration and ontological security debates, it demonstrates how, in general, dark tourism may provide a means for confronting the inevitably of one’s own death and that of others. More specifically, dark tourism allows the re-conceptualization of death and mortality into forms that stimulate something other than primordial terror and dread.
Despite modern society’s diminishing experience with death as a result of institutional sequestration, Tercier (2005:22) suggests that, whilst people are now spectators to more deaths than in any prior generation, driven by both real and represented images, ‘we see death, but we do not ‘touch’ it’. With this in mind, it is argued that individuals are left isolated in the face of death and, thus, have to call upon their own resources when searching for meanings to cope with the limits of individual existence. Therefore, dark tourism, in its v