Dark Tourism – When does it cross the line?

As some of you may know I am a Tourism student at Sheffield Hallam, I’m in my final year currently and I’m learning some really interesting topics.

One of the topics that we have discussed is the concept of Dark Tourism. For those of you who don’t know this term it is known as tourists visiting sites associated with death, disaster, terror or violence.

There is a lot of interesting discussion around this topic as what is deemed as appropriate.

I really wanted to discuss this topic on my blog to find out your opinions on Dark Tourism, if you think it is right to visit these places and what crosses the line of being suitable?


My Experience: 

For example back in 2012 when I was in Year 11 at secondary school I went to Poland with my school and we visited Auschwitz & Birkenau.

The World War History is something we learn at school and so as part of this we went to the site as part of an educational. You expect a load of school people just about to finish secondary school to be immature and disrespectful but visiting such a prominent site that we all recognize really hit us all quite hard. It was completely silent and we just listened to every word the tour guide had to say.

 

This I would say is a very real and well respected example of Dark Tourism.

Another example was back in 2017 when I went to Berlin. Again a prominent city in history. My boyfriend and I did a lot of walking on our first day in Berlin and I used my Lonely Planet guide to help me visit the main sites such as Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie but also the Holocaust Memorial.

Something I really wanted to ask you all is if you see taking photos as appropriate:

Good Example:

 

These are images taken of myself capturing my natural honest experience of feeling rather overwhelmed in the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, taken by my boyfriend P.R.Barker Photography. 

Bad Example:

I understand that taking selfies seems like a natural expression when you visit somewhere but I don’t think these seem like the right places. I know you want to capture your experience but people smiling and saying its part of their ‘bucket list’ just seems a little bit over the line for me.

Leading on from these selfies, do you think there is a worry that the younger generation don’t understand how disrespectful it is when visiting certain sites?

Also interestingly how different countries perceive death, when we went to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin there was a group of people who started having a snowball fight between the pillars of the memorial. It made me feel so mad as the memorial hit me quite hard and brought back memories of walking through Auschwitz & Birkenau. I didn’t respond to them I ignored it but it made me think why they thought it was an okay thing to do.


Research: 

I listened to The Why Factor – BBC Radio programme on Dark Tourism. It brought up some really interesting topics that got me thinking.

In particular I wanted to bring up the case of Grenfell tower. In the radio programme they talk about people taking selfies infant of Grenfell tower and how that crosses the line of being inappropriate as people are still mourning their loss. However it is good to remember these events so we can learn and not forget.

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Another topic that wasn’t discussed as it has only been fairly recently is the Logan Paul controversy. A lot of you may have seen all over Twitter, Facebook and even on the news the horrendous video uploaded by Logan Paul.

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He visited the Aokigahara Forest in the Minamitsuru District of Japan, it is well renowned as an extremely dark tourism site as unfortunately it is a place where people go to take their own lives. The local authorities and volunteers do a lot of work to help those that enter the forest for suicidal reasons to reconsider and help them reach contact with support services.

The reason the Logan Paul video was so controversial is that he seemed to commercialise and monetise on the forest by entering it and showing a dead body on it with his utterly astonishing reaction of laughter.

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He has such a high reach to the younger generation with over 15 million subscribers that is truly worrying that his reaction could be deemed as ‘normal’. Thank goodness the video is no longer available and he has since released an apology video but all that comes out from is that ‘he made a mistake’ well i’m not a You-tuber but I could have done that for you. The even more worrying part is the comments section, I understand he has followers that love him but congratulating him on 16 million subscribers and ignoring this dark subject is very odd.

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I want to hear from you, what do you think he should do to improve this situation?


I know that this is a slightly darker blog post than I would normally do. However I want to be completely honest on my blog and talk about real, gritty topics. Travel is not all sunshine and rainbows and there are darker sides to tourism than are normally expressed.

If there are any other topics that you would like me to discuss then please let me know. I have previously spoken about overcrowding in Venice when I went there so go and give that a read: The Tourism Dilemma: Venice

I would love to hear from you in the comments section, share your opinion and I completely accept your opinions.

If you haven’t already then please subscribe to my blog and be notified whenever I release a new post. I have some great ones in the pipeline but your suggestions are always welcome.

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Thank you so much for reading,

Rhianna

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3 Comments

  1. Tg
    January 21, 2018 / 11:42 am

    Hi, Rhianna.
    I enjoyed your post a lot and it is right the fact that even if it still called toursim, one must be respectful all times.
    Some time ago I have seen photos of people jumping and playing in the memorial in Berlin, and it felt like they did not care about what it’s meaning. For me-and sorry if I sound rude- they were just people who need attention, like this kid Logan Paul, who gets to do everything wrong!
    Kind regards,
    Tg

    • January 21, 2018 / 1:29 pm

      I could not agree with your comments more, when the people were having a snowball fight it just seemed like they didn’t care. It spoiled my experience as I wanted to pay my respects and it seemed like they just wanted to mess around.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  2. June 3, 2018 / 7:56 pm

    Good article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thanks in advance 🙂

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