Dark tourism: understanding visitor motivation at sites of death and disaster

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Title: Dark tourism: understanding visitor motivation at sites of death and disaster
Author: Yuill, Stephanie Marie
Abstract: People are fascinated with death and disaster . One simply has to watch traffic slow to a crawl when passing a car accident to understand this . However , this fascination goes beyond the side of a highway and enters the realm of tourism . Today , numerous sites of death and disaster attract millions of visitors from all around the world : Auschwitz -Birkenau , Anne Frank's House , Graceland , Oklahoma City , Gettysburg , Vimy Ridge , the Somme , Arlington National Cemetery . The list grows each year as exhibited by the recent creation of an apartheid museum in Johannesburg , South Africa . Due to the increasing popularity of this tourism product , a small number of academics have begun studying the phenomenon . Leading the field are Lennon and Foley who labeled it Dark Tourism , Seaton who coined the term Thanatourism , and Rojek who developed the concept of Black Spots . However , despite ongoing study , there has been a paucity in understanding what actually motivates individuals to sites of dark tourism . Yet understanding motivation is imperative , particularly given the subject and sensitivity of these sites . Some are slowly decaying , and visitors play a large role in their preservation . Subsequently , without proper management , visitor influxes can further deteriorate sites or induce friction with the locals . Knowledge then , also provides administrators the necessary tools to properly manage the varying stakeholders . Although many feel an interest in death and disaster simply stems from morbidity , the range of factors involved extend from an interest in history and heritage to education to remembrance . To begin this study , a list of possible motivations was compiled . Then , to get a better comprehension of these motivations , visitors to the Holocaust Museum Houston were surveyed as a case study . As a commodified , synthetic site of death and atrocity , the museum fits the definitions of a dark tourism site as established by lead academics . Therefore , by asking visitors to the museum what motivated them to the site , the results will hopefully give some acumen into the wants and needs of certain stakeholders . Finally , this research sought to discover if motivation at the museum could shed light on motivation to other sites of dark tourism .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /89
Date: 2004-09-30

Citation

Dark tourism: understanding visitor motivation at sites of death and disaster. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /89 .

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