Dark Tourism is the New Trend of 2023: Here is What You Need to Know

Dark tourism is the new trend of 2023. As per the latest industry analysis by Reports and Insights, the global market for dark tourism is anticipated to be worth $44.5 Bn by 2031.
Dark Tourism is the new trend of 2023

DT is the New Trend of 2023

Dark Tourism Chernobyl Nuclear Blast

Dark tourism is the most rapidly growing form of tourism in 2023. It involves visiting places that are associated with suffering, tragedy, and death. Often motivated by a desire to learn about the dark side of humans and morbid curiosity, dark tourism offers a glimpse into the consequences of corruption and human greed. With more and more people gravitating towards visiting places with a morbid history like concentration camps, and battlefields, it is safe to say that dark tourism is the new trend of 2023 and will most probably continue to gain more popularity in the coming years. 

It is innate human nature to explore things it can’t fathom, therefore dark tourists scramble to the places that reflect the aftermath of genocide, war, and other atrocities to gain closure, an understanding of the complexities of the human mind, that makes one inflict suffering and pain on fellow beings, and pay respect to the fallen, who had to live through the harrowing incidents.

Here is Why DT is the New Trend of 2023

Here is What the Experts have to Say

Dark Tourism Chernobyl

An IUPUI associate professor of tourism, Suosheng Wang describes dark tourism as the phenomenon of people traveling to sites of disaster and death, whether natural or manmade. Terms like “dark side of tourism”, “milking the macabre”, “tragedy tourism” and “thana tourism” have also been used to describe dark tourism. Though most see dark tourism as an irksome form of tourism, it is not that straightforward. According to Wang:

“We cannot simply say dark tourism is a good or bad thing, which wholly depends on how dark tourism is organized and how the local communities think of developing dark tourism at dark sites.

“On one hand, the original purpose of dark tourism sites is for visitors to memorialize the victims and receive education to ensure the ‘never again’ hope. This is why most of these sites are presented as sites of remembrance for heritage, education, or history.”

Wang also stated that after a disaster occurs, local people can be subject to a painful or uncomfortable situation due to dark tourism, as most don’t want to relive and recite the dark days of their past. When one’s hometown, is turned upside down by a tragic disaster, the image of it serves as a constant reminder of the tragedy and prevents those who suffered from moving beyond the disaster.

“In the transition from a place of past disaster to a place as a dark tourism destination, death is presented as entertainment,” Wang said. “Such dissonance is an integral and unavoidable characteristic of dark tourism, and the stigma of death and tragedy may be distasteful to the local residents.”

One main reason that Wang mentioned behind the rise in dark tourism is the rise in disasters and tragedies in the world. Moreover, developing a better understanding of dark tourism has become important as well, as it plays a significant role in disaster recovery efforts, especially in developing countries, where dark tourism can not only stimulate but also empower a community in mourning. However, even if rise in dark tourism can facilitate economic recovery of disaster-stricken sites, there is a fine line between memorialising the dead and exploiting the suffering and pain of people for financial gain and profit. 

Wang stated that there are two types of dark tourism sites i.e. noncommercialized and commercialized and two kinds of dark tourists namely schadenfreude tourists and thanatopsis tourists. The schadenfreude tourists are those who drive a secret pleasure from the suffering and misfortune of others. They are criticized for snapping selfies, eating fine food, and staying in luxurious hotels near the sites of past suffering. Whereas, on the other hand, the thanatopsis tourists are who wish to contemplate the meaning of the loss of life. Thanatopsis tourists wish to preserve the dark tourism sites and aren’t in favor of developing commercial activities near or on the site. 

The interesting backdrop for the moral quandaries associated with dark tourism rises due to the convergence of the opposing motivations of the two different kinds of dark tourists mixed with the communities’ needs and cultures where dark tourism sites reside. 

“Critics argue that dark tourism is commodifying the sufferings of the past for the financial gains of the present,” Wang said. “The onsite interpretation of a dark site can be overshadowed by commercialized representations, and the past tragedy becomes a site of commodity consumption.”

“Dark tourism provides a significant tourism experience while at the same time raising new anxieties and ethical dilemmas,” Wang added. “Doubtlessly, it is a challenging issue for tourism management organizations or local communities to develop dark tourism at dark sites.”

Dark Tourism, Windng staircase of an abandoned building

Professor Girish Prayag of the University of Canterbury has also been researching dark tourism and says that dark tourism sites can be fully developed tourist attractions without necessarily harboring tourist facilities and amenities.

“As we move into an era of unprecedented climate change with more extreme and devastating impacts of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, bush fires, there will be more places that will fit under dark tourism and disaster tourism spots.”   

According to Professor Girish Prayag, there are numerous reasons for people to want to visit such sites. Remembrance, learning the historical facts of the place and its events, curiosity, a sense of moral obligation, connecting with one’s own heritage, all of these factors’ fuels ones desire to tour the sites that went though periods pain and suffering.  

“Dark tourism can be very controversial for communities; some want to see those sites, others don’t as they can be a stark reminder of the past and prevent some communities from moving forward.

“Using the suffering of people as a way to market a place can be highly political as well. While tourists often don’t see it that way, for local communities such sites are not always welcomed although others see it as a personal space for reflection on the meaning of life and remembering the lost lives but also a way to celebrate those who survived,” Professor Prayag says.

Despite the moral and social dilemma surrounding dark tourism, there is no doubt that this kind of tourism is the new trend of 2023. Statistics show that 82% of Americans are dark tourists, whereas according to a survey conducted in 2022, 91% of Gen Z have engaged in some form of dark tourism. 

Concluding Statement

Dark tourism concentration camp WWII

DT might not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, it has emerged as a significant segment within the travel industry. With a CAGR of 8.5% and a valuation of $10.5 billion by the end of 2023, this kind of tourism has become the most coveted form of travel. As the industry evolves, it is vital to balance the curiosity of tourists with ethical considerations and responsible tourism practices, making sure that these destinations are respected and preserved for generations to come. With the hordes of people visiting the sites of pain of suffering, it is safe to say that dark tourism is the new trend of 2023 that is here to stay for the long run.

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp in 2023

As DT is the new trend of 2023, how about you hop on to the bandwagon and visit a few places that tell tales of human atrocity and cruelty? A visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp is a must if you want a glimpse of the evil humans are capable of and educate yourself on the atrocities that were committed during World War II. A visit to the place will also help you understand the pain and suffering of the 2 million people of Gaza who are trapped in the biggest open-air prison in the world.

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