Institute and symposium for “dark tourism research” set up
Just as people are drawn to scenes of destruction on television and drivers slow down to look at a road accident, many tourists feel a need – admittedly often out of respect – to visit sites where disaster or devastation once took place. The label used for this phenomenon is, increasingly, “dark tourism”. Examples range from concentration camps in Poland to the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and more contemporary sites include ground zero in New York, parts of New Orleans hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and, most recently, the scene of the Costa Concordia tragedy off the island of Giglio in Italy. Tourism officials in Tuscany are reportedly encouraging tourists to visit the site as a “gesture of love” – and boost tourism revenues, even though there are still bodies in the wreckage. However, tour operators say they have not had requests from tourists wanting to see the partially submerged vessel.
In the case of New York, the recently unveiled 9/11 Memorial now gives visitors a way to, as Travel Weekly puts it, “meaningfully engage with the emotional ravages of terrorism”. Such memorials “offer visitors an experience that is both educational and cathartic”. Meanwhile, an Institute for Dark Tourism Research has been established at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, which will host a Dark Tourism Symposium on April 24.
[photo courtesy 9/11 Memorial]