The paper further proposes a dark tourism consumption model within a thanatological framework as the foundation for further empirical and theoretical interpretation and analysis of dark tourism (DeSpelder and Strickland, 2002:97).
The experience of and travel to places associated with genocide and death is not a new concept in the tourism world. For centuries now, people have been long attracted, purposefully or other, towards events or sites linked with suffering, death, disaster, or violence (Byock, 2002:283). Consider the Roman gladiatorial games, attendance, or pilgrimage at medieval public executions were the early forms of death-related tourism, while the first guided tour in England was a trip to witness the hanging of two convicted murders (Deak, 2001:112). Similarly, other authors note that visits to morgue became a regular feature in the nineteenth century tourism in Paris probably a precursor to the ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibitions in Tokyo, London, and other places, which have attracted tens of thousands of visitors since the late twentieth century (Bodyworlds, 2006). Some scholars suggest that destinations or sites associated with war constitute the largest category of the world’s tourist attractions, yet war-related attractions are a subset of the total tourist sites associated with suffering and death.
Reference is often made to specific destinations and sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, or to the forms of tourism, such as atrocities, graveyards, prisons, slavery-heritage tourism, or the holocaust. Nonetheless, this is the diversity associated with death-related attractions from the Vienna’s Funeral Museum for the ‘famous’ deaths or the Dracula Experience in the UK, or other major disasters such as Ground Zero (Bly, 2003). This implicitly implies that a full categorization is extremely complex. Interestingly, only recently did the academic attention focus upon dark tourism, despite the increasing contemporary evidence and long history of