Vacationing with Death

By Sam McDougle

Whether it’s concentration camps, the 9/11 memorial, or sites of executions, the sites of the world’s atrocities are epicenters for a particular brand of traveler that, rather than white sands and mai tais, prefers hanging out with death. Dark tourism is vacationing with suffering.

The phenomenon is strange enough that it’s now academic, thanks to the recently-founded “Institute for Dark Tourism Research,” or the iDTR, at University of Central Lancashire, England. According to its homepage, “dark tourism is travel to sites of death, disaster, or the seemingly macabre.” It’s like rubbernecking with a hotel. Examples of dark tourism, according to the iDTR, range from the 9/11 memorial to “early” dark tourism such as, “Roman gladiatorial games, spectator events at medieval executions, morgue tours of 19th century Europe, or early visits to battlefields such as Waterloo or Gettysburg.”

The iDTR was founded by professors Richard Sharpley and Phillip Stone. Stone spent over a decade in the tourism industry before becoming an academic and Sharpley has published numerous books on the role of tourism in society, though recently he turned to the “dark” side. Now they conduct research into dark tourism, looking at the business, politics, morality, and psychology of it.

Read the rest over at Motherboard.

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