Dark tourism sites: visualization, evidence and visitation

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Purpose: This paper aims to consider dark tourism sites and their pivotal role as evidence of atrocity and evil. How they are interpreted and the role of visual imagery, most particularly photography, are considered from the perspective of the locations as heritage and learning sites. The complex arguments in relation to conservation and maintenance are juxtaposed with the behaviour of visitors in recording and uploading imagery of such material. This phenomenon allows us to consider the enormity of witnessing such events and viewing such sites as part of contemporary tourist behaviour. Design/methodology/approach: The approach utilizes contemporary literature from tourism, sociology and film studies and uses secondary sources to highlight key sites that illustrate discursive elements of the paper. Findings: This appeal and appetite for photographic and filmic record by visitors to such dark sites illustrates not only an inherent fascination but also a series of dark and recurring themes. However, it is also notable that in some locations, ideological selectivity in development is present and evidence, record and history are challenged. The cases of Cambodia and Russia and elements of their tragic pasts are used to illustrate why key heritage sites are developed as attractions or are ignored as evidential sites. For these reasons, this area still merits evaluation and discussion in tourism. Originality/value: The area of dark tourism has been the focus of researchers for over a decade. However, the areas of selectivity in development, ideological impact on content and the issues related to visualization have not as yet been fully explored. This paper begins to explore issues related to visualization and evidence and how it related to these dark tourism sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
JournalWorldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes
Issue number2
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2017


  • dark tourism
  • heritage
  • education
  • heritage sites


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