Dark Tourism – Gray Tourism


  • Tourism that involves travelling to places associated with death and suffering.
  • Tourism to sites associated with tragedies, disasters, and death
  • Tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy.
  • This type of tourism has been defined as a manifestation of travel to sites historically or previously associated with death and human tragedies, by deflecting knowledge of the face of human tragedy or the ugly and ugly face of man and human dignity.
  • Dark tourism is travel to sites that in some way are connected with death and disaster/tragedy or the “seemingly macabre”.


  • Attending “public death-in-Process” (executions, airplane crashes) .
  • Visiting places of mass deaths or individual deaths after their occurrence (Holocaust death camps). Calling burial and memorial sites!(war memorials, cemeteries) .
  • Seeing actual proof or figurative portrayal of deaths at a different location than were it happened (monuments, museums) .
  • Observing and/or attending re-enactments of death

Dark Tourist:

Tourist travel to areas affected by or associated with disasters or other public tragedies.

It’s an observable phenomenon. People do go to such sites as tourists. And the tourism industry caters for this too. So we may ask: why? And: what is the nature of the phenomenon.?

a person who travels specifically to visit the scene of a tragedy or disaster

Dark tourism origin

Dark tourist – Thanatourism, derived from the ancient Greek word thanatos for the personification of death, refers more specifically to peaceful death; it is used in fewer contexts than the terms dark tourism and grief tourism. The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.

Dark Tourism Today 

According to the world travel and tourism council (WTTC) tourism is one of the largest industries worldwide. The industry thrives and tourists are constantly looking for new trends, exciting ways of travel and different kinds of adrenaline rushes.

Dark tourism evolved to being one of the latest trends, although it has been practices for years. As the tourism society emphasized the concept, the field of dark tourism has grown into becoming the thrilling and important topic for the tourism industry. It is widely known, that tourism has experienced a remarkable growth in the last half century, which also led to dark tourism becoming widespread and diverse. Dark Tourism is now extensively recognized as a form of tourism and also as a promotional tool.

Up to a certain point, Dark Tourism might imply financial benefits to any place or attraction. The extent of these benefits highly depends on the commercialization of the singular tourist site. It is important to mention that dark tourism, in most of its cases, includes as educational factor.

Motivation of Tourists:

The main purpose of entering the tourism of sadness and tragedy, as instructed by some English references, is to travel to dark, human sites by erasing their historical assessment to recognize the ugliness and seriousness of the degeneration of human values, and what may be drifting from blindness of insight and what may be exposed to human beings as a result of the dangers that can deliver it As is the case with the torture camps, the Nazi concentration camps and the mass graves in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and others, it touches on the value of civilization, human advancement, social justice and the importance of human rights laws, not the goal of seeing death and suffering itself.

So the main motivations are:

  • Educational
  • Information seeking
  • Historical interests
  • Cultural
  • Heritage seeking
  • Emotional 
  • Nostalgia 

Categories of the Dark Tourism

The basic concept of dark tourism (its short-hand definition, as it were, stipulates that it involves sites associated with death and disaster (or the seemingly macabre). But that can take very different forms:

Disasters can be natural, industrial or both (environmental disasters, for instance, may have been caused by human interference for example the Aral Sea). Disasters can result in humanitarian catastrophes, like the 2004 Tsunami, or, while being spectacularly destructive, not actually cause any deaths at all – e.g. the Eldfell eruptions on Heimaey, Iceland – even though much of the town was destroyed by the lava flows, nobody was killed.

Sites of death can be graves, cemeteries, mausoleums, ossuaries, i.e. places where there are actual mortal remains. They may be more abstractly sites where deaths happened, such as assassination sites (e.g. the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, where JFK was shot). Or both at the same time – e.g. the Cambodian Killing Fields memorial site (with its stupa full of skulls).

Some distinct subcategories can be discerned include:

  • Grave Tourism
  • Holocaust Tourism
  • Genocide Tourism
  • Prison and Persecution Site Tourism
  • Communism Tourism
  • Cult-Of-Personality Tourism
  • Cold War & Iron Curtain Tourism
  • Nuclear Tourism
  • Disaster Area Tourism
  • Icky Medical Tourism
  • Battlefield tourism and battle re-enactments
  • The ‘Dungeons’ exhibitions (kind of dark amusement parks/-halls
  • Paranormal tourism (e.g. to crop circles or UFO sightings)
  • Travel to fictional dark places, such as film sets of (in particular) horror movies
  • Dracula-related tourism
  • Danger Tourism, travel to places at which you’d put your own life at risk, esp. active war zones.

The most important Dark tourism destinations:

The most important tourist attraction sites are the sites of human rights violations, the secret detention centers, the sites of war and the mass massacres, the dark and marginalized sites that define the worst levels of development and the often accompanied by violence, exploitation and low human dignity, Dark or dark tourism to the remnants of natural disasters, as in the locations of the tsunami and the subsequent tragedies of the local population, and the same for the remnants of earthquakes and volcanoes.

In general, these destinations/sites can be determined by dividing this type of tourism

  • Dead on display
  • Medical exhibitions
  • Cemeteries, graves
  • Mausoleums
  • Catacombs, crypts, ossuaries
  • Funeral museums
  • Murder/assassination sites
  • Suicide sites
  • Atrocities/massacres/terrorism
  • Executions
  • Persecution/repression/slavery
  • Prisons/detention & torture centers
  • Gulags
  • Concentration camps
  • Death camps
  • ‘Euthanasia’ / medical crimes
  • Genocide
  • Holocaust
  • Jewish heritage sites
  • Nazi sites
  • Communism sites
  • Socialist realism
  • Cult of personality
  • Revolution/resistance sites
  • World War One sites
  • World War II sites
  • Post-WWII war sites
  • Cold War sites
  • Iron Curtain/fortified borders
  • Missile launch sites
  • Bunkers
  • Underground dark sites
  • Atomic bombing/nuclear weapons
  • Nuclear installations
  • Industrial disasters/wastelands
  • Natural disaster sites
  • Environmental disaster sites
  • Volcanoes
  • Wrecks/wreckages
  • Ruins
  • Ghost towns
  • Emigration sites
  • Middle-of-nowhere sites
  • Islands
  • Cities
  • Other dark and weird places

Dark tourism sites around the world: (Modern world)

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster – Japan

March 2011

was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011. 

Ground Zero – USA

11th September 2000

The World Trade Center site, formerly known as “Ground Zero” after the September 11 attacks.

Auschwitz Birkenau

German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)

The fortified walls, barbed wire, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and cremation ovens show the conditions within which the Nazi genocide took place in the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest in the Third Reich. According to historical investigations, 1.5 million people, among them a great number of Jews, were systematically starved, tortured and murdered in this camp, the symbol of humanity’s cruelty to its fellow human beings in the 20th century.


Dozens of other former prisons are open to the public, including Alcatraz, on an island off the coast San Francisco. Many hotels are found in former prisons, including the Malmaison Oxford, The Four Seasons Istanbul, and the Lloyd hotel in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Penitentiary know as “Angola” swings open its security gates and invites the general public to come on down and enjoy some “extreme rodeo” twice a year.

Pripyat, Ukraine

This village was once home to 50,000 people, most of whom worked at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power station. It was abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, but in recent years has attracted thousands of visitors wanting to wander through the eerily empty streets and buildings.

Costa Concordia Disaster – Italy 

January 2012

The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized and sank after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, on 13 January 2012, resulting in 32 deaths. There may have been additional people not listed as on board, so the death toll could possibly be higher.

New Orleans – USA


Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive and deadly tropical cyclone that was one of the costliest natural disasters and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. As Katrina made landfall, its front right quadrant, which held the strongest winds, slammed into Gulfport, Mississippi, devastating it.

Eyjafjallajokul – Iceland


Iceland’s nature is volatile, namely volcanic. And in 2010 Iceland again made negative headlines when huge ash clouds from the eruption of the subglacial volcano Eyjafjallajökull brought unprecedented disruptions to air traffic across much of Europe and the Atlantic.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – Japan

August 1945

A large museum that forms the very heart of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, one of Japan’s most visited sites, and certainly one of the darkest in the world. It is also overall one of the best museums that not to be missed.

Sri Lanka civil war sites – Sri Lanka

Since the end of the Civil War in Sri Lanka, the areas in the north and east of the country, which previously had been too dangerous for tourism, have opened up. It is now quite safe to go and a tourism infrastructure is developing.


Tours of former battlefields are also big business. Those of the 1st world war, such as the Somme, have been especially popular during recent centenary events, Hastings, Gettysburg, Waterloo, Bosworth, and Culloden also lure thousands of visitors each year.

Slum Tours – Mumbai – India

Danny Boyle’s hit film Slumdog Millionaire sparked a new trend for Tours of Mumbai’s most impoverished districts. The tours are highly controversial, but are according to organizers, conducted with sensitivity, and the cooperation of the residents, while profits are donated to local charities. Similar favela, township and hutong tours can be booked.


Visitors of Hoi An, the picturesque Vietnamese city know for its tailoring, can book tours to the site of My Lai Massacre, where at least 347 men, women and children were brutally murdered by US troops.


On 10 June 1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Haute-Vienne in Nazi-occupied France was destroyed, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company. A new village was built nearby after the war, but French president Charles de Gaulle ordered the original maintained as a permanent memorial and museum.

Belchite – Spain

On June 15, 1809, French and Spanish forces in the Peninsular War fought the Battle of María near Belchite.

The remains of the old village have been used as filming locations in films including Terry Gilliam’s 1988 film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. The ruins of the town were also used in the opening scene of the 1983 ITV documentary The Spanish Civil War

Okpo Land – South Korea.

Was an amusement park based in the outskirts of Okpo-dong, South Korea. It was shut down in May 1999 after a series of fatal accidents, in particular the death of a child who fell from the duck roller coaster ride.


The ruins of Pompeii have been a travel destination for 250 years, making it perhaps the original dark tourism site. 

And recently :

Syrian War: Homs and Aleppo ruins

Yemen – Civil War – The tragedy and the war :

The war in Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe in every sense of the word Fighting continues dead and wounded There are many humanitarian needs.

15 million people have difficulty accessing safe drinking water. 4.5 million children may not be able to return to school this year because teachers have not received their salaries for a year.

The health situation is very poor in the simplest medical and therapeutic requirements – the spread of cholera There is widespread displacement due to the conflict. Families without any basic components. Hospitals and schools destroyed

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