Dark Tourism and its growth into the mainstream
Despite the coronavirus issue we have been dealing with over the past two years, the same issue that’s keeping the whole tourism industry on its knees, people still tend to travel a little bit, and the travelling industry is barely just making it by, thanks to the ease of regulations on some countries where the virus is no longer seen as a ‘big deal’.
There’s a lot of places one can travel to nowadays, but recently we’ve been seeing a rise in people travelling to less commonly visited places. Forget about visiting Disneyland or some kind of happy-go-lucky tour around the world’s most popular capital cities and if you wanna gamble on these expeditions, you’re going to have to resort to an online casino; cause this is all about Dark Tourism - a way to travel that is not luxurious or exotic, in fact, it could probably be the exact opposite of that.
Dark Tourism is where people visit unusual historical places that resonate memories from darker periods in time. There are dark tourism spots out there where you possibly could have visited at some point in your life without realising it’s considered as such, meanwhile there are others you would never imagine existed, let alone having people visit them from all around the world!
Let’s talk about some examples of what categories a dark tourism hotspot could fall under;
- Grave Tourism - where travellers explore foreign cemeteries and graveyards on the search for specific graves of certain famous individuals.
- Holocaust Tourism - where one can visit memorial sites of what once were concentration camps, and even former ghettos, Nazi planning sites and more.
- Genocide tourism - where one travels to explore places of genocidal magnitude, such as places where Nazis affected the Jewish across Europe, as well as places that hosted more modern events, kuje Srebrenica, Rwanda and Cambodia.
- Nuclear Tourism - Also known as atomic tourism, where tourists visit and explore nuclear testing sites like Kazakhstan and more, as well as famous locations that suffered from nuclear attacks such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and even sites where non-military nuclear disasters took place, such as Chernobyl.
- Prison & Prosecution Site tourism - Where tourists visit places of persecution, repression and imprisonment, such as former KGB prisons, gulag sites, asylums and more.
How has it suddenly become so popular?
There was always a pretty large community revolving around the dark tourism world, and it used to be what one might call an underground community, however it’s surely gained a lot of popularity in the last few months, and it’s all thanks to Netflix. We cannot deny that Netflix has become one of the most common entertainment platforms on the planet and it’s being used by the vast majority of families all around the world. Whenever a new good series comes out, Netflix shows you, and the more popular a show becomes, the more often it’s going to pop up in your ‘recommended’ section.
A series called Dark Tourist came out some time ago, where a journalist explains dark tourism more in detail, while showing us around these infamous locations and letting us get a second-hand experience of what one can expect to see when visiting these places. The series is very well made and has convinced many to shift their interests into the dark tourism scene, as it shows that it can be a lot of fun, and very educational too.
Where can I go?
In reality, you can probably find dark tourism hotspots almost anywhere you go in the world. If you love the thrill of experiencing places which are anything but the ordinary, here’s a few spots you won’t want to miss!
- Auschwitz, Poland
This was one of Nazi Germany’s biggest concentration camps during the second world war. Approximately one and a half million Europeans from all nations were sent to this camp, and around 90% of them were Jews. Not only can you freely explore all along the complex, you can also find remains from the victims, like their nails and their hair, which can be found in very disturbing masses.
- Pompeii, Italy
If you happen to be passing by Pompeii in Italy, you’re bound to hear about the historical disaster that destroyed the whole city back in 79 AD. You can visit the volcanic creeks of Pompeii nowadays, where you can find all kinds of ruins and remains from the famous eruption, including fossilized human bodies which were once drenched in scorching lava and cemented into stone, and later on dug up and uncovered by archaeologists. Definitely not a sight for the weak hearted.
- Killing Fields, Cambodia
There’s about 300 locations in Cambodia where under the reign of Pol Pot, Cambodian Dictator, many mass murders were committed, in fact, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in this time, and if you visit these fields today, you can find showcases with thousands of skulls, the actual skulls of the people who were slaughtered by the dictatorship from the past.
Other honourable mentions include:
● Chernobyl & Pripyat, Ukraine, (site of unplanned nuclear disaster)
● Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Japan, (Nuclear bombed sites - affected to this day)
● Berlin, Germany, (Berlin Wall & other WW2/ Iron curtain memorials)
● New York, USA, (Ground zero / National 9/11 memorial museum)
● Darvaza flaming gas fire crater, Turkmenistan, (a crater in the desert that naturally produces gas fires that have been burning for decades after a drilling accident)