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VAASA POLYTECHNIC

Markku Tapani Kuukasjrvi

DARK TOURISM The Dark Side of Man?

Business Economics and Tourism


2006

VAASA POLYTECHNIC
Degree Programme of Hotel and Restaurant Business
ABSTRACT
Author

Markku Kuukasjrvi

Topic

Dark Tourism The Dark Side of Man?

Year

2006

Language

English

Pages

111 + 4 appendices

Name of Supervisor Peter Smeds


This research is an introductory study to the phenomenon of dark tourism. It is
meant for anyone interested in tourism and its special forms in particular. The
scope of study ranges from basic tourism concepts to more specific motivational
theories, which are used to explain the darker side of tourism. The aim of the
research is to find out why people travel to sites and attractions associated with
death.
Basic tourism literature and motivational studies are used to offer the reader a
framework upon which he can reflect the motivational analyses that will be
carried out later on in the work.
The data for the analysis was collected on-site of the former concentration camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Auschwitz museum in Poland. A questionnaire is the
main research instrument used for this quantitative study. Other sources of
information are the authors personal visits to dark tourism destinations in
Cambodia and Thailand, as well as the time spent for observation in Auschwitz.
This study sheds light on the travel motivations of dark tourists, which, in this
field of study, is acknowledged as the area most in need of clarification and
explanation. What is more, in this process we will explore the very feelings of the
dark tourist visiting a site of death and try to find out to what extent does the need
for mental stimulation catalyze the phenomenon. Finally, the ethical and moral
questions connected to the phenomenon are discussed to give the reader an idea
why Dark Tourism is a controversial topic in the modern society.

UDK
Keywords

tourism, dark tourism, death, travel motivation, Auschwitz

VAASAN AMMATTIKORKEAKOULU
Degree Programme of Hotel and Restaurant Business
TIIVISTELM
Tekij

Markku Kuukasjrvi

Opinnytetyn nimi Dark Tourism The Dark Side of Man?


Vuosi

2006

Kieli

englanti

Sivumr

111 + 4 liitett

Ohjaaja

Peter Smeds

Tm ty on alustava tutkimus matkailualan ilmin, jota kutsutaan nimell dark


tourism. Ty on tarkoitettu kenelle tahansa, joka on kiinnostunut matkailusta ja
sen erikoisuuksista. Tutkimusala vaihtelee matkailun perusksitteist
yksityiskohtaisiin motivaatioteorioihin, joita kytetn matkailun varjopuolen
tutkimiseen. Tyn tavoitteena on selvitt, miksi ihmiset matkustavat paikkoihin,
jotka liittyvt lheisesti krsimykseen ja kuolemaan.
Matkailun peruskirjallisuuden- ja motivaatioteorioiden pohjalta lukijalle
rakennetaan viitekehys, jonka perusteella hn voi paremmin tulkita tyn
myhemmss vaiheessa tehtvi analyysej liittyen eri matkailumotiiveihin.
Tutkimusmateriaali on kertty entisen natsien keskitysleirin, AuschwitzBirkenaun ja lheisen museon vierailijoilta Puolassa. Kysymyslomaketta
kytettiin materiaalin keruuseen, joka tss tyss oli posin kvantitatiivista.
Muita tietolhteit olivat ne dark tourism kohteet, joissa tyn tekij on
henkilkohtaisesti vieraillut. Nit ovat Auschwitzin lisksi Kuoleman Kentt
Kambodzassa, sek Kwai-joen silta Thaimaassa.
Tm tutkimus valottaa niiden matkailijoiden matkailumotivaatioita, jotka
voidaan ksitt kuuluvan dark tourism ilmin piiriin. Juuri
matkailijamotivaatio on ilmin epselvin ja eniten listutkimusta kaipaava osaalue. Lisksi tss tyss tutustutaan kyseisten matkailijoiden tuntemuksiin
vierailuiden aikana, mink toivotaan auttavan tmn matkailun erikoisuuden
selittmisess. Lopuksi kydn lpi eettisi ja moraalisia katsantokantoja aiheen
tiimoilta ja yritetn antaa lukijalle ksitys siit, miksi dark tourism on arka
puheenaihe nyky-yhteiskunnassa.
UDK
Asiasanat

matkailu, dark tourism, kuolema, matkailumotivaatio,


Auschwitz

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1

Introduction.......................................................................................................6
1.1
1.2
1.3

Tourism.............................................................................................................9
2.1
2.2

Aim of the research............................................................................................7


Structure of the thesis.........................................................................................7
Restrictions.........................................................................................................8

Tourism explained............................................................................................10
Characteristics of a tourist................................................................................13

Travel motivations..........................................................................................17
3.1
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs and beyond.......................................................17
3.2
Travellers personality traits.............................................................................21
3.2.1
The explorer.............................................................................................23
3.2.2
The adventurer..........................................................................................24
3.2.3
The guided................................................................................................24
3.2.4
The groupie..............................................................................................24
3.3
Zuckermans sensation seeking theory.............................................................24

Dark tourism...................................................................................................28
4.1
Why dark?........................................................................................................28
4.2
History of dark tourism....................................................................................28
4.3
Death and the society.......................................................................................29
4.4
Varying definitions...........................................................................................30
4.4.1
Definition by Lennon and Foley...............................................................31
4.4.2
Seatons definition....................................................................................32
4.4.3
Rojek and Black Spots..............................................................................34
4.4.4
Dark Tourism by Philip Stone...................................................................34
4.4.5
Commercialization and different shades of the dark.................................35
4.4.6
Dark sun resorts........................................................................................37

Types of Dark Tourism...................................................................................40


5.1
5.2

Destination categories......................................................................................40
Dark Tourism in numbers.................................................................................43

Motivation to Dark Tourism The Intrigue of the Dark Side........................45


6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.6

The contribution of media................................................................................45


The dark tourist experience..............................................................................46
Enjoyment of observing death..........................................................................48
Personal interpretation......................................................................................51
Effect of timely distance...................................................................................52
Dark tourism and curiosity...............................................................................53

Places of dark tourism....................................................................................55


7.1
7.2

Killing Fields of Cambodia..............................................................................55


The River Kwai Bridge....................................................................................58

Focus on Auschwitz........................................................................................60
8.1
8.2
8.3

Camp history in short.......................................................................................60


Establishment of the museum...........................................................................62
Inside the museum............................................................................................63

Research..........................................................................................................65
9.1
Research background.......................................................................................65
9.2
Research methods.............................................................................................66
9.2.1
Questionnaires and the two methods........................................................66
9.2.2
Method choice for the research.................................................................67
9.3
Design of the questionnaire..............................................................................68
9.4
Target group for the survey...............................................................................69
9.5
Implementation of the research........................................................................70
9.6
Reliability and validity.....................................................................................71

10

The results of the research..........................................................................73

10.1 The survey pool of respondents........................................................................73


10.2 Dark travellers personality profile...................................................................75
10.2.1
Correlation measurement..........................................................................75
10.2.2
Allocentricism and extraversion...............................................................76
10.2.3
Visitors sensation seeking tendency.........................................................78
10.2.4
Special interest group...............................................................................80
10.3 Things that influenced the travel decision........................................................80
10.4 The main reasons for visiting Auschwitz..........................................................82
10.4.1
Travel motivations and satisfied needs.....................................................83
10.4.2
Respondents travel careers......................................................................86
10.4.3
Travel motivation and sensation seeking..................................................88
10.5 Feelings during the visit...................................................................................88
10.6 Testing the hypothesis......................................................................................92
10.7 The verdict.......................................................................................................95
10.8 Authors notes on the test results......................................................................96
10.9 Visitors views on the visit to Auschwitz..........................................................97

11
11.1
11.2

12

Dark tourism: lessons and moral.................................................................99


Education.........................................................................................................99
Dark tourists and moral..................................................................................100

Conclusions...............................................................................................104
LIST OF REFERENCES..........................................................................107
APPENDICES...........................................................................................111

Introduction

In the course of centuries, the scope of tourism has widened in variety and the
ever-growing bulk of tourists has discovered many new places to travel. Mass
tourism to sun resorts is still in as it was fifty years ago, but it is far from being the
only way to travel.
The travelling boom soared following the industrial revolution in the late 19 th and
early 20th centuries and the new technology allowed tourists to travel further and
more affordably than ever before. Rapidly the sphere of tourism grew, not only in
numbers but also in diversity. This is still the trend today, and advances in
technological development and in the global economy are constantly fuelling it.
Some tourists are content with travelling along with the masses to the usual
destinations keeping the traditional form of travelling alive; others, then again,
search for excitement in more extraordinary locations, constantly creating new
challenges for the industry. Thus, new niches are emerging in the field. Such
forms of tourism like adventure tourism, ecotourism and sport tourism have
gained popularity, with the proportion of individual, independent travellers at a
steady increase. There is also a growing demand for travel to places under
ambiguous connotations: people travel to sites related to death, suffering and
disaster. There are literally hundreds of such destinations around the world,
ranging from sites of genocide to all-family amusement/education centres. This
phenomenon gets tourists on the move by the million every year, and their hunger
is growing.
This relatively new form of tourism has recently gained notable media parlance
and public interest followed by ethical discourse and has become known to the
people as Dark Tourism.
This work introduces the reader to the world of travelling and death, its history,
origins and how it is present in the modern society. Special focus is set on the

challenging task of understanding the dark tourists travel motivation and


experience on the site of the macabre.

1.1

Aim of the research

The aim of the research is to find out why people travel to places associated with
death and suffering.
The hypothesis is that for some dark tourists, the main factor of the motivation to
engage in this new form of tourism is excitement that arises from visiting and
observing places related to death. For the tourist, this means getting in touch with
the dark side, which is realized by visiting dark tourism attractions.
This is to suggest that there indeed is a dark side1 to the dark tourists travel
motivation. It also indicates that dark pleasure in forms of excitement and thrills
is to be found in the dark tourists experience.

1.2

Structure of the thesis

This work starts off with the general introduction to tourism. We find out what
tourism is and what its role is in society. After examining the basics of a tourism
system, we move on to define the tourist and to explore his central role within this
powerful industry. The next step in forming the background knowledge is
investigating different travel motivations from the viewpoint of classical need
theories and more recent theories, specific to the travel industry. The background
section ends with descriptions of travellers different psychographic behaviours
and personality traits, which are beneficial in understanding the dark tourists
behaviour.

Dark in terms of raising moral questions about the purpose of travel.

The second part of the work explores Dark Tourism from history till present day.
We trace the history of Dark Tourism back in time and see the changing role of
death in the society. Some varying definitions of the phenomenon are introduced
followed by extensive coverage on its different types. The dark tourist and the
fascination for death are discussed in the chapters to follow.
The third part of the research sends the reader to Auschwitz and probes into the
motives and the individual experiences of the dark tourists. The hypothesis is
tested and other research results discussed. We then add an ethical perspective to
the final discussion. The very last chapter summarizes all that we have
encountered on our quest to understanding the phenomenon of Dark Tourism.

1.3

Restrictions

Despite the fact that Dark Tourism is a relatively new field of academic research,
several distinct areas of Dark Tourism study have already emerged. This thesis is
merely to introduce the reader to the phenomenon of Dark Tourism and then to
investigate the motivation due to which people travel to places of atrocity, disaster
and grief. Hence the author has selected not all, but only a few forms of Dark
Tourism that are most characteristic of this phenomenon, to be included in
describing it. Respectively, in investigation of the motivation of dark tourists, only
one out of a number of possible locations has been selected for holding
interviews. However, this dark tourism destination is much visited and the most
notorious of them all: Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. All selections have been
made considering the reader best to grasp an idea of what Dark tourism is about
and the travel motivation of the dark tourist.

Tourism

Imagine the exotic beaches in Thailand, enchanting city-breaks in Rome and


relaxing family visits to Disneyland in Paris. Oh boy, this is what it is to travel,
this is life! Is there anything better than to go around the world and travel?
Today, people travel all around the globe. As there were a mere 25 million
international arrivals in 1950, worldwide tourism evolution had increased the
number to 763 million in 2004 (www.unwto.org). Tourism touches all warm
continents, and, even in the Antarctica it is possible to locate sightseeing cruises
with a bunch of adventurous tourists onboard. Package holidays are being made to
cater both sun seekers and the more extreme travellers. Tailor-made packages are
being produced, that is creating a package trip by closely following the customers
wishes, to ensure the traveller maximum experience and enjoyment, to ever more
unusual destinations.
The ever-increasing population of travellers has conquered land, air and the
waters. Looming is also, no more and no less than the conquest of space. In fact,
on April 28th in 2001, the first fee-paying space tourist, an American
businessman and former NASA2 scientist Dennis Tito was allowed to enter the
International Space Station. Since Tito, there have been three more space tourists
to visit the ISS, the latest an Iranian-born woman in September 2006. For the time
being, however, space travel is far too costly for the average traveller.
Many of us have an idea of our own about what travelling is: unforgettable
memories with the dearest one when watching a sunset, painstaking summer
holidays with the children, breathtakingly beautiful fjord sceneries along a
trekking route, educative bus tours with extravagant tour guides and energizing
skiing holidays in the mountains. Apparently, tourism is a very diverse activity,
which touches many lives, economies and cultures and acts as an agent of change
2

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. An agency of the United States Government,
responsible for the nation's public space program. (www.wikipedia.org)

in them. As for economy, tourism is responsible for over 10 % of the global gross
domestic product3 (Cooper 2006: 4). Now how can we possibly confine such a
diverse, multi-layered phenomenon to a simple statement?

2.1

Tourism explained

The word tourist first appeared in the English language in the early 1800s, and
still today, over two hundred years later, a great number of social scientists and
scholars have not been able to constitute an overarching definition of tourism that
would satisfy everyone. It is, nevertheless, important to try to define tourism in
order to create credibility and a feeling of ownership for those involved in
producing tourism products and services. Also it is vital for legislative and
statistical reasons in relation to its impact on the economy and culture. (Cooper
2006: 6)
Many definitions exist, each with a slightly different angle on how to look at
tourism. The World Tourism Organization and United Nations Statistical
Commission postulated one simple yet not complete definition of tourism in
1994:
Tourism means the activities of persons travelling outside their usual
environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and
other purposes (www.unwto.org).
For the sake of tourism studies and its development, it is important to have an
organized framework where to locate the different industry sectors and to define
the place and function for different actors in the industry. The definition above
includes the three major components of a tourism system: the travellers (tourists),
their home environment (tourist-generating region and in respect the tourist
destination region) and the activities the tourists engage in, which are delivered to
3

GDP. The market value of all final goods and services produced within an area in a given period
of time.

10

them by the tourism sector. With addition of the transit route region between the
tourist generating- and the tourist destination regions, we are able to reconstruct
the model of a basic tourism system developed by Leiper in year 1995.
Figure 1. A basic tourism system. Source: Cooper 2006.

There are three basic elements of Leipers model: tourists, geographical elements
and the tourism sector. The tourists are the actors or the lifeblood, if you will, in
the tourism system, circulating through the geographical regions. The tourist starts
off from the tourist-generating region (left side of Fig. 1), passes through the
transit route region (in the middle) and finally arrives at the tourist destination
region (at the right side of the figure).
The tourist-generating region generates the tourism market. This is where
potential travellers seek information, make bookings and start with the travel. The
transit route region means the area when the tourists are no longer in their home
region, but have not yet arrived at the destination. You are in transit, for instance,
when waiting for a connecting flight in Frankfurt on your way to Seoul, or passing
Berlin on a train that has started from Prague and is going to Hamburg.
The raison detre of tourism, the tourist destination region, is where tourism really
happens. There is something of special interest for the tourist in this region that
cannot be found in his home region. Thus a pull factor is created that fuels the

11

whole tourism system and creates demand amongst the potential travellers in the
generating region.
The tourists buy tourist products and services from the tourism sector provided at
one or more of the geographical locations. The tourism sector (rectangle around
transit route region in Fig. 1), being the third element of Leipers model, is present
everywhere in the tourism system. It can be regarded as a range of tourism
organizations and actors that take part in, or in some other way contribute to
delivering the tourism product for the traveller. Travel agents and tour operators
can mostly be found in the tourist-generating region, whereas attractions and the
lodging industry are situated in the destination region. The transport industry is
mostly represented in the transit route region. (Cooper 2006: 8, 9)
According to Cooper, Leipers model offers a simple, yet useful way of thinking
about tourism, from small resorts to international movement of travellers (Cooper
2006: 10). It is also regarded as highly flexible for different forms of tourism thus
providing an initial frame of reference for all disciplines of tourism study.
However, when thinking about Leipers model of a tourism system, one aspect is
slightly underemphasised. The destination region, as mentioned, has some special
characteristics that create the pull in the tourist-generating region. Respectfully,
the generating region, having shortages4 in comparison to the destination, creates
a thrust that makes the traveller want to travel. This thrust, working together with
the pull-factor of the destination, generates desire to travel in the travellers mind.
This desire to travel, or travel motivation, is the driving force for the whole
tourism system. It is the focal point of travelling and we will discuss it further in
chapter 3.

Difference in the travellers perception of what the destination can offer vs. what the home
environment can offer.

12

2.2

Characteristics of a tourist

By definition, a tourist is anyone "travelling to and staying in places outside his


usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business
and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from
within the place visited". (www.unwto.org)
In other words, you are a tourist when you are outside your home environment
(tourist generating region) within the set time limits, and are not performing work
that is paid by a business based in the place you are visiting. This is a rather
simple and commonsense description for a tourist who is now easily identifiable.
Now lets have a look at the tourists role and place in the entire tourism field. The
key role in the grand show of tourism is invariably played by the tourist. The
whole symphony is composed and played based on his interests, wants and needs.
This means that the tourist facilities, events, activities and programs will all be
produced according to the tourists needs.
To describe both tourism and the tourists place in the action field of tourism in a
simplified manner, the author established a model called the tourism event
horizon. The tourism event horizon starts with the tourist as the observer in the
centre and includes all the tourist activities, related operations and organizations
that are situated on the physical background of the destination, as we move further
through the different phases in the horizon. The tourism event horizon was
adopted and developed from Goeldners model of The tourism phenomenon
(Goeldner 2006: 14, see appendix 1).
The tourism event horizon was elaborated by combining Goeldners model with
Leipers model of a tourism system, which defines the tourist only as the actor in
the system and doesnt quite give an understanding about the tourists central role
and relationship regarding the different sectors / instances in the system.

13

Figure 2. The Tourism Event Horizon

We start with the centrepoint of the event horizon, the tourist (in the middle of
Fig. 2). The tourist makes the travel decisions and is the one to interact with, or at
the least have effect on, all other elements in the tourism sphere. The tourist brings
along not only money, but also cultural- and other environmental impacts from the
home environment to the destination environment (and back).
The tourist is in interaction with the catalyst sector (first circle around the center,
Fig. 2), which includes the planning, development and promotion of tourism on
both public- and private sectors. They work in the tourists home region as well as
in the destination region. Their task is to improve the offered tourist services in
accordance with the tourists needs. The catalyst sector also promotes the
destination to the potential travelers from within the tourist generating region, that
is, the tourists home environment.
The next sector in the horizon is the operating sector (second sphere from the
center), where tourist-based governmental, regional and local tourism strategies

14

are being applied and practised. This is where all tourist transport, various types of
lodging, tourist activities and food and beverage services are being offered to the
tourist. Here also, the actual traveling experience is created. Tourist components in
the operating sector can be thought of as the usual tourism elements, which are
most often dealt with on tourist trips.
The background on which tourism activities eventually take place, can simply be
called as the tourist destination environment (the outer sphere in Fig. 2). The
difference in perception between the offerings in the tourist generating region and
offerings in the tourist destination region partly creates the pull in the traveler,
which means his desire to travel to the destination. The difference in perception is
individual and there is a variety of factors to affect the travel decision.
Nevertheless, it is usually something in the destination environment that is not
present at the home region of the traveler creating the interest to travel.
Alternatively, it may be something in the generating region that creates the will to
depart and so pushes the traveler away from his home environment. In this
scenario, it may be that the push is so forceful so that the destination region
doesnt play a big role. An example of such could be a psychological thrust that
has been created by exhaustion of work and hence one needs a change, just to go
anywhere outside the home region.
The destination environment includes the natural resources, the infrastructure,
culture, the climate, economical-, legal- and social environments etc. The transit
route region is, similarly to Leipers model, the route through which the tourist
moves from his home environment to the destination environment.
Each tourist has his own background: values, social norms, beliefs, language and
perception of the world. He has gradually absorbed these effects from the home
environment. When the tourist is in interaction with the transit- and especially
with the destination region, not only economical, but also several cultural impacts
are superimposed on the destination. If the impact of tourism and/or its

15

importance for the region is very high, the destination may even have to take on
structural and governal reforms. For example, 43 % of Hawaiis Gross State
Product5 depends on tourist spending and foreign tourism investments, which
makes the state highly dependent on the industry.
There, tourism development has played a major role in the destruction of ancient
Hawaiian burial grounds, significant archaeological historic sites and sacred
places. On the other hand, the local community may find that the quality of their
life is significantly enhanced through being able to enjoy improved infrastructure
that was developed in the wake of tourism development in the area.
Obviously, tourism is of great significance in societies around the world, but it
also affects the traveller himself. Travelling opens the mind, they say. Getting to
understand the world better could be one purpose of travel, but it is one out of a
vast number of possible travel motives.
The next chapter focuses on the tourist in the middle of the Tourism event horizon
through introducing the various reasons behind the tourists travel decision and
providing a framework for more detailed motivational studies.

The counterpart to Gross Domestic Product for a U.S. state or an Australian state.

16

Travel motivations

Much tourism revolves around novelty-seeking, and modern technology has made
it somewhat heroic for the tourist to seek out the white virginity of the polar
regions, to fly into space, and to discover the exoticism of the other. Tourists
today are wandering in a strange world of experiences that needs to be studied
thoroughly. (Singh 2005: xiii)
Possible travel motivations are various, and virtually unlimited. Be it spirituality,
be it instant pleasure, relaxation, gaining social status, escapism or cultural
enrichment, the profound reason behind the travel decision is highly individual.
Beyond the frequently measured purpose of travel (e. g. for business or for
pleasure), which is considered to be public and quite self-explanatory, the
motivations or underlying reasons for travel reflect an individuals private needs
and wants, offering a wide range of possible travel motivations. Difficulties in
their accurate measurement also makes travel motivation research challenging.
Nevertheless, despite the difficulties, pursuing travel motivation studies can be
remarkably beneficial for the service providers and therewith, for the individual
travellers. (Pearce 2005: 51)

3.1

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs and beyond

Based on Maslows classical theory Hierarchy of Needs formulated in 1943,


which is the most popular approach to human motivation research to date, Pearce
and co-workers established the travel-career needs model better to match the
requirements of tourism study. It offers us a framework to place numerous travel
motivations in categories and so makes it easier to handle and study distinct
motivations.

17

Maslows original model consisted of five steps of needs and is often structured in
a pyramidal form. The presumption of Maslows model is that the needs at the
lower levels must be satisfied before progressing to the higher and more complex
levels of the pyramid. In this rather strict approach, when considering travel
motivation, we assume that a traveler whose main purpose travel are social needs
(meeting relatives for example), the two upper levels (self-esteem and selfactualization) are not likely to be parts of the persons travel motivation. Later,
this assumption has been revised the interpretation has become more open and
flexible to combinations of motivations. (Pearce 2005: 56)
The travel career ladder (TCL), as developed from Maslows original model, also
describes tourist motivation as consisting of five different levels.
Table 1. Comparison between Hierarchy of Needs and the TCL
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Travel Career Needs Ladder


specification

Internally and externally oriented

Safety needs

physiological needs
Other- and self-oriented

Social needs

safety/security needs
Other- and self-oriented relationship

Esteem needs

needs
Other- and self-oriented self-esteem

Need of self-actualization

and development needs


Fulfillment needs

Physiological needs

The steps on the travel career needs -model correspond to the steps in Maslows
hierarchy of needs, which in Table 1 is placed up side down compared to its usual
pyramidal presentation. The steps on the TCL have been expanded and extended
to range the specific needs at each step and to build a comprehensive catalogue of
the many different psychological needs and motives. In this original model,
though travelers were considered to have more than one level of travel motivation,
it was suggested that one set of needs in the levels might be dominant.

18

We have to remember that an individuals particular travel motivation is more


often than not, formed of a set of different motivations, not of a single, allencompassing motivation. This is to say that the motivation will consist of one or
more factors on any of the steps of the travel-career needs ladder (the five steps
are presented in Fig. 3). For other travelers - for example, those exploring exotic
locations and participating in more diverse forms of tourism a wider range of
motives including self-development, mastery, curiosity, escape, and selffulfillment will be involved (Pearce 2005: 57)
Figure 3. Travel-career ladder. Pearce 2005.

Along with Maslows ideas, the career concept in tourism was equally important
in forming the travel career ladder. In this respect, it is argued that peoples
motivation changes with their travel experience. People may be said to have a

19

travel career, reflected in a pattern of travel motives, which changes according to


their lifespan and accumulated travel experiences.
Previous experience, knowledge about the activity, and the level of investment in
the activity all help in classifying a person as having a specialist interest. The
specialization concept is interlinked with the career concept, and both offer a way
to assess and think about tourist involvement in activities and the growth of the
involvement (Pearce 2005: 56).
The travel-needs model was formulated so that a dynamic, multi-motive account
of travel behavior could serve our understanding of tourism. It acts as a blueprint
for the assessment of tourist motives and requires individual tailoring to specific
situations.
The spine of motivation for nearly all travelers consists of relationships
(relationship needs in Fig. 3), curiosity and relaxation (self-directed selfdevelopment and externally oriented physiological needs). Moving toward more
extreme travel motivations, from cruises at the Antarctica to Earth-view space
flights, we can distinguish the steps on the ladder that host such needs. Dennis
Tito described his visit to the ISS himself in the interview by CNN 6 in 2001, --I
did not expect the experience to be so broad and enlightening. I connected with
my children way beyond ever having done that. I experienced various kinds of
emotions. I described -- this I love space, paradise, heaven. But to have six days
where I had a constant high, no pun intended, was just the greatest experience of
my life. And I'll carry that with the rest of my life (CNN 2001: LARRY KING
LIVE ).
Fitting this picture to the travel-career needs ladder, we can recognize fulfilled
needs at several levels: external needs for excitement, curiosity and arousal on the
physiological level, other-directed need to affiliate and self-directed need to give
affection on relationship needs level (connecting with the children), self-directed
6

The Cable News Network. A major American cable television network founded in 1980.

20

need for excitement and mental stimulation at Self-development needs level, and
Tito had clearly experienced the flow, or the high, also at the highest level,
level of self-fulfilment.

3.2

Travellers personality traits

There have been few studies in tourism, which have attempted to determine if
personality factors predict tourist behavior. These typologies are conceptualized
within

the

psychographic

dimensions

ranging

from

introversion

and

psychocentricism to extraversion and allocentricism. The relationship between


these two dimensions is claimed to be both independent and interdependent.
(Jackson & White 2001: 177)
Plog in 1972 was the first to conduct research on personality as applied
specifically to tourists. He sought to link personality traits directly with tourist
behaviors and distributed tourists over categories along a bell curve, from
psychocentrics to allocentrics. According to his model, psychocentrics are persons
who are less adventurous, inward looking, who prefer familiarity in their
surroundings and concentrate on popular destinations such as Coney Island and
Miami Beach. Allocentrics, at the other end of the continuum, are adventurous and
prepared to take risks and remote destinations, which appeal to their sense of
adventure and novelty, such as Africa. Midcentrics at the centre of the bell curve
form the majority of travelers and travel to destinations located between the two
extremes. Plogs model is the most well-known and applied personality construct
within the field of tourism. (Crouch 2004: 170)
A number of experiments by a number of scholars were conducted to test the
interdependence between the two - logically uniform personality traits,
extraversion and allocentricism. The results have shown no statistical relationship
between these two and so the researches were left to conclude that tourists and
their destination choices are best described on two dimensions rather than one
(Jackson & White 2001: 178).

21

The polar ends of each continuum are described as shown in Fig. 4.


Figure 4. Traditional personality descriptions of psychocentric-allocentric and
introvert-extrovert. Source: Jackson & White 2001.

Psychocentric travelers (top-left corner in Fig. 4) prefer organized tours and


familiar destinations and cannot usually be described as active or individual in
their travel behavior. Allocentrics (top-right), then again, are adventurous,
individualistic in choosing destinations and organizing trips. They are very open
to new experiences and foreign cultures.
Introvert people are quiet and reserved in appearance and careful in all that they
do (bottom-left in Fig. 4). Extroverts on the other end of the continuum are
carefree, spontaneous and normally very eager to meet new people (bottom-right).
In their paper, Jackson & White made a division between allocentricism and
extraversion. They point out that despite the findings, there is some relationship
between these two psychographic patterns of behavior. Based on the descriptions
on both scales, Jackson & White constructed a two-direction matrix that defines
four tourist personality types and associated behaviors.

22

Figure 5. Name and proposed personality indicators for four independent,


interdependent personality types. Jackson & White 2001.

Below are the proposed tourist behaviors for each different personality type
presented in the matrix.

3.2.1

The explorer

The explorer (#1 in Fig. 5) follows his own time and has no timetables. His aim is
to get to know hosts and their unique culture to enrich his own knowledge in
secluded, discrete destinations. The explorer is not organized, not controlled, and
seeks excitement and challenges. Normally, he is quiet in groups and seeks to
avoid crowds.

3.2.2

The adventurer

The adventurer (#2) prefers traveling with friends and not with unknown tourists.
He likes to meet new people (especially hosts), and travel without an organized

23

plan. His activities are optional and may be unconnected; the explorer avoids
boredom by stopping at many places and doing exciting things. He explores
different cultures with a sense of freedom.

3.2.3

The guided

The guided traveler (#3) has a sense of isolation and being alone (or in a discrete
unit), and he travels only with spouse or special friend. Everything has been
arranged to avoid worries, misunderstandings, or over-expenditure. He revisits his
favorite destinations, prefers the familiar things and enjoys luxury. The guided
travels to escape lifes problems and to relax.

3.2.4

The groupie

Traveling with a group of friends or with tourists he has met on packaged tours,
the groupie (#4) seeks sun, beach and nightlife destinations that can offer lots of
activities. Events and action with crowds of people, such as sporting events and
theme parks, are on top of his menu. The groupie likes to meet tourists and hosts
of both sexes. (Jackson & White 2001: 180).

3.3

Zuckermans sensation seeking theory

Another personality variable, sensation seeking, according to Zuckerman, is


specifically defined as "the need for varied, novel, and complex sensations and
experiences and the willingness to take physical and social risks for the sake of
such experiences" (1979, p. 10).
Sensation seeking is an individual-differences variable that could also be related
to liking of death-related experiences. It is measured by Zuckerman's Sensation
Seeking Scale. This scale includes four subscales that measure tendencies toward
disinhibition, boredom susceptibility, experience seeking, and thrill and adventure
seeking. High sensation seekers are characterized as searching for intense

24

stimulation, such as can be found performing thrilling activities, like skydiving. It


is possible that visiting places of death can provide the kind of intense stimulation
and arousal that will appeal particularly to high sensation seekers. (Goldstein
1998:150)
According to Zuckermans theory, the Thrill- and adventure seeking (TAS) factor
includes items that express the persons desire to engage in sports or other
physically risky activities that provide unusual sensations. Such activities as
parachuting and scuba diving would be interesting for those who score highly in
the Thrill and adventure scale. Zuckerman adds that the attitude that describes the
TAS-factor is I sometimes like to do things that are a little frightening.
The following True / False claims were used in the research to test the TAS-factor:
-

I like to have new and exciting experiences even if they are a little
frightening

I like doing things just for the thrill of it

I like to do things that are out of the ordinary.

The Experience seeking (ES) factor encompasses seeking of novel sensations


through mind and senses through arousing music, art and travel and through social
nonconformity. Artists and hippies could be examples of this norm-breaking
behavior. The claims to included in the questionnaire to test the ES-factor were:
-

In an amusement park, I would prefer the wild rides

I enjoy getting into situations where you cant predict how things will
turn out

Ill try anything once.

Disinhibition (DIS) factor describes sensation seeking through social activities


such as parties, social drinking and sex. The attitude phrase for this factor would
be: I like to have new and exciting experiences even if they are a little
unconventional or illegal. These claims were to test the DIS-factor in the survey:
-

I think rules are meant to be broken

I like to stand out of the mass

25

If I really want to do something, nothing can stop me.

The fourth factor, Boredom susceptibility (BS) represents an intolerance for


repetitive experience of any kind, from routine work to boring people. The
attitude is expressed as: The worst social sin is to be boring. (Zuckerman 1979:
31-32) It was also included in the questionnaire, with the following phrases:
-

I like to change my interests frequently

I dislike long-term routine work

I am an impulsive person.

Related to the travel career needs ladder, the needs of sensation seeking can be
located on several steps of the ladder. Physiological needs covering physical and
mental arousal such as needs for excitement, arousal and stimulation can logically
be connected to sensation seeking. On self-esteem/development needs level,
similar needs to the physiological levels needs for stimulation and need for
achievement can also be called sensation seeking traits.
Levels of each of the four factors on the Sensation Seeking Scale were measured
in short in the survey conducted at the concentration camp at Auschwitz. The
results can be found in chapter 10.2.3.
Having explored the psychological theories, we are now well equipped to drill
into the mind of special interest travelers. One very intriguing and growing niche
of travellers is dark tourists, who visit purposefully a diverse range of sites,
attractions and exhibitions which offer a presentation of death and suffering. Their
travel ethic has been questioned and they have been blamed for morbid
curiosity. It can, indeed, be argued whether the travel motivation of this group of
tourists spans only fields of commemoration and historical education or if there is
some distorted thrill seeking as a part of the travel motivation. Nonetheless, before
entering the dark side of the mind, lets have a look on what dark tourism is and
who dark tourists actually are.

26

4
4.1

Dark tourism
Why dark?

The mystery related to death and suffering is usually associated with darkness. It
comes from the Western culture, where death is black and life and purity is white.
Felicity comes in white and other bright colours. Black and dark shades of grey
match pain and sorrow. In the Orient, however, white is the traditional colour for
mourning. Black may, nevertheless, beside career and knowledge for example,
also signify evil influences and mourning. It has been Western scholars to
investigate the phenomenon of death-oriented tourism, and terms such as blackspot tourism, thanatourism and even phoenix tourism have been used to
describe it. Some authors favour the term thanatourism because it is a neutral
term without any emotional connotations (Singh 2005: 63). In this work,
nonetheless, the term dark in connection to the tourists motivation is under
focus and hence considered to be descriptive of the phenomenon.
Entering a dark tourism site, e.g. the Killing Fields in Nom Penh in Cambodia,
one feels cautious, not willing to disturb or disrespect the site. It is a place where
over 17 000 people were murdered: men, women, and children. The obvious
presence of death and inhumane sufferings covers the whole site under a
mourning veil. This ambience alone is enough for us to understand why this form
of tourism is called dark. It appears that the darkness is originated inside the
site itself, but the question is: why do we feel so drawn to it? This topic will be
touched in this chapter and we will investigate it in full in chapter 6.

4.2

History of dark tourism

Several commentators view pilgrimage as one of the earliest forms of tourism.


This pilgrimage is often, but not only, associated with the death of individuals or
groups. These deaths tend to have a religious or ideological significance that

27

provides meaning to a group of people. Pilgrimage has a religious or, at least,


mystical significance, which contains elements of both a personal physical as well
as often a psychological journey for participants. Sometimes this can be
associated with attaining social and or economic standing. (Lennon & Foley
2000:3)
We have historically had a curiosity about death an example is the attendance of
public executions from medieval times up until the nineteenth century. Also the
fights between the gladiators in the Roman era were great public entertainment.
With death and suffering at the core of the gladiatorial product, and its eager
consumption by cheering spectators, the Roman Colosseum may be considered
one of the first dark tourist attractions. (www.dark-tourism.org)

4.3

Death and the society

In eighteenth-century Europe and England, death was everyone's intimate


acquaintance, constantly on view. Child mortality rates were extremely high.
Crowded living in unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, famine, disease, and
accidents ensured life's unpredictability from day to day. Executions were also
public. Well into the nineteenth century, an execution day was a holiday, and
schools were let out; it was commonly believed that the sight of punishment
would deter future criminals. The bodies were often displayed for a long while,
the flesh decaying before people's eyes.
Late in the eighteenth century, death actually began to recede in many Western
countries, if imperceptibly at first, and attitudes to it changed. Over time, social,
religious, and medical changes made dying and death gradually withdraw from
view; by the mid-twentieth century they became virtually invisible in most large
metropolitan centers, especially in America and England.

28

Once the cemeteries were shifted away from city centers, the rural cemetery was
turned into a delightful garden and the old casual acquaintance with dead bodies
was transformed into a spectacle or viewing opportunity. In Paris, people idly
dropped in on the morgue, where the door was always open, if they were passing
by, and the catacombs, where the bones that had welled up from earlier cemeteries
were arranged in ranks and galleries, were popular sites for tourists. (Goldstein
1998: 27-28)
In historical terms, in the sense of visiting sites of death and disaster, dark tourism
has long roots that date millennia backward in time. Public entertainment and
presentation of death for retribution and public intimidation have long been
practiced throughout contemporary societies. During the past three centuries, the
withdrawal of death from the public scene has increased death-related mysticism
and its deep-rooted fascination amongst the common people.
Now, what and when exactly is dark tourism? Some scholars limit the
phenomenon only to the modern times, based on its relation to the post-modern
society. What is the nature of dark tourism? These questions we try to answer
through different definitions of the phenomenon.

4.4

Varying definitions

Being a relatively new theme in academic writing, there are few attempts to define
dark tourism. They are not unified in scope and extent, so in order to get a
complete picture of what dark tourism is all about, we will investigate the
definitions one by one.

29

4.4.1

Definition by Lennon and Foley

The first researchers to bring dark tourism to the eyes of the academic society
were John Lennon and Malcolm Foley with their book Dark Tourism: The
Attraction of Death and Disaster. In only seven years, they had stimulated
significant academic attention, and had even merited an encyclopedia entry for
thanatourism / dark tourism (Singh 2005:63). The term dark tourism was coined,
as a means of describing the phenomenon, which encompasses the
presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and
disaster sites (Lennon & Foley 1996: 198).
According to Lennon & Foley, dark tourism is principally an intimidation of postmodernity. This means the events and places in history, that now have turned to
dark tourism destinations, introduce doubt and anxiety about modernity in the
viewers mind. How did the unsinkable Titanic, the technological pinnacle of the
time, sink after all taking 1500 passengers down with her? Why was Martin
Luther King Jr., defender of peace, equality and modern thinking itself,
assassinated? Moreover, how could the civilized and cultured society of Germany
systematically murder 1,6 million Jews in the Second World War?
A more recent similar example could be the massacre in Rwanda, where roughly a
million ethnic group members were iniolated in just a hundred days in 1994. The
most striking fact outside the massacre was the ineffectiveness of the United
Nations and its Western members in particular. Countries like United States,
Belgium and France all declined to intervene or speak out against the planned
massacres prior to the event actually taking place.
In other words: things that shouldnt happen in the modern world do happen.
Sometimes it is possible to prevent them from happening, and yet it is not done.
This introduces the apprehensive question: are we safe in this world after all, and
moreover, can we feel safe in ourselves?

30

Each of the forementioned events and their numerous respective memorials,


museums etc. receives significant tourist attention. Each of these are dark tourism
destinations with apparently dark connotations.
Lennon & Foley set two more preconditions for dark tourism (in addition to the
threat on post-modernity): firstly, that global communication technologies play a
major part in creating the initial interest and secondly, that the educative elements
of sites are accompanied by elements of commodification and a commercial ethic,
which approves taking the opportunity to develop a tourism product. The first
means instantaneous media coverage of events, local or global in scale, and hence
introduces the collapse of time and space. The latter suggests that apart from
being an arrant source of education, a dark tourism site carries the capacity of
financial benefit that is being exploited. These conditions are sufficient to satisfy
Lennon & Foleys definition of dark tourism.
These limitations exclude, for example, roughly the sites of battle and other events
prior to the start of the twentieth century due to the chronological distance, from
being labeled dark tourism, the reason being that they do not induce anxiety
about the present-day society and the direction it is heading. These events are just
too far back in time for us to really grasp it.

4.4.2

Seatons definition

Tony Seaton coined a similar label in his definitive article, From Thanatopsis to
Thanatourism: Guided by the Dark. In it, he describes thanatourism as being,
travel to a location wholly, or partially, motivated by the desire for actual or
symbolic encounters with death, particularly, but not exclusively, violent death,
which may, to a varying degree be activated by the person-specific features of
those whose deaths are its focal objects (1996: 234-244).
The definition of thanatourism focuses on the travel motivation, which determines
whether -and to what degree - the travel is thanatourism. The actual or symbolic

31

encounters with death constitute the core of the thanatourism phenomenon. If


there are special features to the death of a person or the person himself whose
death site is visited, it may by its own right boost the desire to visit the site. For
example Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, US, celebrates the
memory of a superstar, whose loyal fans and other tourists still visit the rock and
roll legends home decades after his death. Graceland mansion now harnessed for
another purpose; it has been turned to a museum and a centre for commemoration.
For many, the reason to meet death is not the main purpose of travel to this
destination.
Seaton furthers his definition by adding two factors. First, thanatourism is
behavioral; the concept is defined by the travelers motives rather than attempting
to specify the features of the destination. Unlike Lennon and Foleys concept,
Seaton recognizes that individual motivations do play a role in death and disaster
tourism. Secondly, thanatourism is not an absolute; rather it works on a continuum
of intensity based on two elements. First, whether it is the single motivation or
one of many and secondly, the extent to which the interest in death is person
centered or scaleofdeath centered. Figure 6 illustrates Seatons thanatourism
continuum.
Figure 6. Seatons Thanatourism Continuum. Seaton (1996)

Seaton suggests, as presented in Fig. 6 on the left, that dark tourists whose travel
motivation has a weak thanatourism element, have a very person-centered interest

32

in death. The main motives for such travelers are commemoration and respect for
the dead. Dark tourists with a strong thanatourism element (on the right in Fig. 6)
are defined as having a generalized interest in death and that for them, meeting
death is the sole purpose of travel. Scenes of disaster would be a favored
destination for such travelers.

4.4.3

Rojek and Black Spots

Chris Rojek coined the third term affiliated with the concept of dark tourism. His
expression, black spots, refers to the commercial developments of grave sites
and sites in which celebrities or large numbers of people have met with sudden
and violent deaths (1993:136). Rojeks approach to black spots comes nearer to
Foleys & Lennons definition of dark tourism with commercialized utilization of
the site. It seems that commercialization is indeed regarded as an important
component of a dark tourism destination.

4.4.4

Dark Tourism by Philip Stone

Philip Stone, the editor of the Dark Tourism Forum, wrote a definition of dark
tourism, which is probably the simplest of the ones presented. He states: 'Dark
tourism is the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions and exhibitions which
has real or recreated death, suffering or the seemingly macabre as a main theme.'
(www.dark-tourism.org.uk) This definition, as well as Lennon & Foleys and
Rojeks definitions, focuses equally on the dark characteristics of the destination
itself, not the travel motivation of the tourists visiting the site. Apparently, we
have several terms to describe the same phenomenon, but there are also two
clearly distinct approaches.
This leads us to a question: is dark tourism demand-driven (by the taste of dark
tourists) or supply-driven (the allure of the destinations), or is it possibly a
combination of the two? In addition, we must ask if it is the tourists purpose of

33

travel that creates a makes the travel dark tourism or is the destination itself the
determining factor to define the phenomenon.

4.4.5

Commercialization and different shades of the dark

It is the mystery of death that may come to mind when thinking of what attracts
tourists to visit a dark tourism destination. But also marketing schemes are being
implemented, the sites being partially commercial of nature, which also reinforces
the pull factor.
If youre looking for fun things to do in Memphis and enjoy visiting celebrity
homes, don't miss touring Elvis's 14-acre estate in Memphis, Tennessee
(www.elvis.com). At Graceland, several Elvis-related packages are being offered
from the regular visit to the mansion up to weddings. There are Elvis gift shops to
buy souvenirs, the Elvis Christmas Celebration is a package for the whole family
and Elvis Wedding Events make it possible for couples to get married in a chappel
very close to the Kings mansion.
Clearly the multitude of supply and marketing efforts has an effect on the tourists
travel decision, especially in highly commercialized dark tourism attractions, like
that of Elvis. In contrast, at the museum and concentration camp AuschwitzBirkenau, where the most important thing is realistic interpretation of the history,
the commercial character is not so apparent. For legislative reasons amongst
others, admission to the estate is free of charge. Naturally some profit-producing
services are included, such as guide-service and selling of books and articles
related to the Holocaust, but, due to the historical significance of the site, it would
be out of context and beyond good practise to commercialize it further.
It appears that the darkest of dark tourism destinations are relatively little
commercialized, whereas such death sites of popular culture icons like Elvis with
less dark associations have a broad range of support services and products. Of
course, not all celebrity death sites or sites of lighter nature are heavily

34

commercialized, however, an apparent link can be found between the historical


and political sensitivity of the site and the level of commercialization.
It has been argued that several stages of darkness exist within the field of dark
tourism supply (Miles 2002: 1175-1178). Miles proposes there is a crucial
difference between sites associated with death and suffering,
and sites that are of death and suffering. Thus, according to
Miles, the product (and experience) at the death camp site at
Auschwitz-Birkenau is conceivably darker than the one at the US
Holocaust

Memorial

Museum

in

Washington

DC.

(Stone

2006:151)

Figure 7. A dark tourism spectrum: Perceived product features of dark tourism


within a darkest-lighest framework of supply. Stone 2006.

35

Lower level of
commercialization

Higher level of
commecialization

The part above the scale-line in Fig. 7 shows the nature of the
dark tourism destination, that is it measures its sensitivity or the
political and historical influence, and the descriptions under the
continuum describe different characteristics of the site. With one
additional measure, the level of commercialization (placed at the
bottom in Italics), we can more accurately decide to which end of
the continuum an individual dark tourism destination should be
placed.
Looking at the scale, the link to the travel motivation becomes
more evident: the more sensitive the site, the more motivation

36

veers toward education and commemoration and the more


authentic is the encounter with death. The dark effect is at its
strongest at the left end of the continuum and respectively
weakest at the right.

4.4.6

Dark sun resorts

There is a kind of dark tourism destination that has all the characteristics of a
holiday destination and also features of a dark tourism destination. Outstanding
examples are the holiday paradises wiped out by the tsunami in 2004. Before the
destructive waves struck the shores of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and many
other countries, the Christmas season was at its peak.

Then, in one short instant, these glamorous oriental tourist attractions turned to
vast cemeteries. Nearly 300 000 people lost their lives, amongst them thousands
of tourists. Much of the tourism infrastructure was destroyed at the same time.

The holiday resorts were quickly rebuilt, however. In Phuket of Thailand, for
about eight months after the tsunami, most hotels had less than 10 % occupancy.
One year after the tsunami, most of the islands hotels were back to business,
though many were not doing very well. But then there are places like Phi Phi Don
island, a 90-minute ferry ride from Phuket, where the waves' full fury was felt.
Rebuilding on Phi Phi Don had barely begun in January 2006; the tragedy's legacy
was all too apparent. Official records show 721 died in Krabi province and many
of them are still missing. Tourists are gradually returning, but some are still
hesitant; they wonder if dead corpses can still be found floating in the sea.
(Beyette 2006 in Los Angeles Times)

Tourism is coming back to the rebuilt resorts in Thailand. Sun is still shining,
people sunbathe and swim in the sea. Children build castles of sand. The Tsunami

37

escape route signs are the only visible remnant of the total destruction.
Everything seems to be back to normal, but something has changed. Most tourists
still come for the sun, but there is also curiosity amongst them to see the site of
destruction for themselves. Many have seen the shocking videos and pictures of
the destruction and at least heard of the rottening corpses floating in the sea.

These beautifully restored beach resorts are actually places where hundreds, or
even thousands of people died very recently. Amongst the sun-seekers there are
their friends and relatives, coming to pay respect to the victims of the tsunami.
The places themselves have not changed, but for some visitors, they have changed
forever.

Can we categorize these destinations as dark tourism destinations? Obviously they


are very much commercialized, but the commercialization has nothing to do with
the tsunami. Reflecting against Lennon & Foleys criteria for dark tourism
destinations, they neither raise questions about the modern society, the cause
being a natural phenomenon. It did bring about tremendous suffering and it
required enormous casualties, but even so, it does not shake the image we hold
about the man-made world (societies, cultures, et cetera). But these destinations
do match the general description: visiting sites of death and disaster.

These destinations have sun seeking and relaxation as the main theme, not death
and suffering, so they can neither measure up to Stones definition. It appears that
in the scientific reign at least tourist destinations that have been destroyed by a
natural disaster do not qualify as dark tourism destinations. In tourism research,
for example, it would be difficult to measure the amounts of leisure tourists
visiting these sites, when the number is obscured by estimations about dark
tourists at the same site. However defined, one thing is for certain: there is a dark
element to each of these sites. Though these destinations cannot be called dark
tourism attractions, with some degree of certainty we can assume that there are
dark tourists who visit these sites inspired by just this element.

38

Dark tourism could be summed up as: The act of visiting places


with death, suffering and disaster as the main theme, driven by
both the supply of the destination and the visitors interest in its
extraordinary
emphasize

features.

the

multitude

Furthermore,
and

it

is

important

diversity

of

dark

to

tourism

attractions, all of which by no means serve similar functions and


share the same characteristics. As proved by our last example,
the tourist may indeed be a dark tourist (visiting a place that, to
him, is of death and dying), even though the destination does not
qualify as a dark tourism destination.
Either one of the definitions described in this chapter can neither
be called wrong nor the absolute truth; they are simply slightly
different ways to look at the same phenomenon.

39

Types of Dark Tourism

There are many forms of dark tourism supply. Some are physical destinations
where atrocities and dying have actually taken place; some are purposefully built
in another location to commemorate such events. There are dark tourism products
where the tragic event is being re-enacted with the tourist participating in the
process. Some destinations offer more educative value, some exist mainly for
entertainment. In this chapter we focus on the types of tourism on the supply side
of dark tourism. In effect, we focus on plain distinguishable characteristics shared
by a number of dark tourism destinations. As shown before, destinations can be
divided into different shades of darkness for example, depending on many
factors that affect the dark tourists experience. In this chapter only the surface of
the dark tourism destination is being evaluated, the different effects that the dark
tourist may experience there are left to be introduced in the chapters to come.

5.1

Destination categories

The following categorization was developed by the author based on dark tourism
literature and few already established dark tourism categorizations (Dann 2001;
Stone 2006).
A rough cut of the main different types of dark tourism could be as follows:
1. Seeing places of mass murder and genocide
2. Going to museums related to death
3. Visiting graveyards and cemeteries
4. Going to dungeons
5. Battlefield tourism
6. Slavery tourism
7. Taking part in re-enactments of tragic events.

40

The first category of dark tourism, the sites of mass murder and genocide includes
sites such as Auschwitz and the Killing Fields of Cambodia and other places
where a large number of people have died. The place of the twin towers struck
down by terrorist attacks in September 11 2001 that is now known as Ground
Zero, also falls into this category of dark tourism. These places also belong to the
darkest shade of the dark tourism continuum with closest contact to dying.
The second category, museums and exhibitions, includes any genocide museums,
and museums associated with wars. The United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington and the Yad Washem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem are
probably the most renowned examples of this kind of museums. Also the Imperial
War Museum in London, dedicated to viewing the war history of the United
Kingdom from the First World War till present, belongs to this category.
The third category is visiting graveyards and cemeteries exclusively or as a part of
the travel itinerary. It is claimed that the presence of death and the abundance of
related symbols like gravestones and other elements give the dark tourist pleasure
that is rooted in Gothic or Romantic art and literature. Pre-Lachaise is the most
famous of the 20 cemeteries in Paris. Beyond its primary function, this famous
Romantic-inspired necropolis has become an open-air museum and pantheon
garden.
The dark tourism sites in the fourth category, Dungeons, are usually rich in visual
display and are built much for entertainment purposes. The London Dungeon
simulates horror from history, recalling events of atrocities from the past. You can
journey back to the darker side of European history. The Dungeons often include
portrayals of how the punishments for crimes from executions to beheadings and
torture were practised in the past. Celebrity death sites can be mentioned as a subcategory of its own. This means the death sites of famous individuals that are still
objects of frequent tourism visitation. Dead celebrities like Elvis Presley, John
Lennon, James Jimmy Dean and Marilyn Monroe still live in the memories of
the many thousands of visitors that visit their death sites each year.

41

The fifth category of dark tourism, battlefields tourism, means visiting locations
where battles, both great and small, have been fought. Tour operators arrange trips
specifically for this purpose or as a part to a more extensive travel plan. The
experience of standing on the ground where soldiers fell and blood was shed can
bring the reality of war close to the dark tourist. Many tourists who visit
battlefields are war veterans coming to pay respect to their comrades and maybe
to bring a tragic period in his life to an end. Some tour operators even arrange
trips to active battlefields, like those in Israel or Afghanistan. (www.darktourism.org.uk)
Slavery tourism, also known as roots tourism, involves visitation of sites that
were formerly used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade or that can bring up strong
memories about slavery. This is the sixth category of dark tourism. In Africa,
guided tours typically focus on the perspective of slaves and the tragedies they
were made to endure. Some of the most famous of these destinations are Cape
Coast Castle and Elmina Castle in Ghana, and Gore Island in Senegal. (Ann
Reed: www.dark-tourism.org.uk)
Re-enactments are a specific kind of dark tourism, and the seventh category in the
listing. Here the tourist is a part of the dark tourism product itself. For example
the re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings is a yearly event at Battle Abbey in
Battle, East Sussex, UK, recreating the Battle of Hastings. It takes place every
year on the weekend nearest the 14th October on the site of the historical battle.
Another example of a dark tourism re-enactment is the replay of the death of
President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. There is a tourism product built
around the assassination in which a presidential limousine will take you through
the same route as it did on November 22 in 1963. The sounds, the crowds cheers
and the gunshot are all played in real time just as it happened. Even the speeding
to the hospital is included in the experience. (Foley & Lennon 2000: 98) The
motivation of a tourist taking this kind of trip can just be guessed, but it is as close
as it gets to reliving the event.

42

5.2

Dark Tourism in numbers

Even though dark tourism is a growing phenomenon, it is only a small fraction of


the worldwide tourism sphere. For example, compared to the most popular tourist
attraction in Paris (being the most visited city in the world), Disneyland Paris,
even the most visited dark tourism destinations fall far behind. About 12 million
people visit Disneyland Paris each year. (www.unwto.org) However, if we view
the phenomenon from the supply-perspective, the situation looks quite different.
Smith stated in her research about war and tourism: despite the horrors of
death and destruction, the memorabilia of warfare and allied productsprobably
constitutes the largest single category of tourist attractions in the world
(1996:247-264). In the following, we shortly glance at some of the most popular
dark tourism destinations today.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has received 24.1 million visitors as of


April 1993 till September 2006. This amounts on average to 1,7 million visitors
per annum. The visitors have amongst them 34 % school-aged children, 12 % are
international visitors, and non-Jewish visitation to the museum is as high as 90 %.
Also over many heads of state and over 2,700 foreign officials from 131 countries
have visited the museum. (www.ushmm.org)
In 2004, nearly a million people visited the Anne Frank memorial museum in
Amsterdam, Holland. The same year, Auschwitz-Birkenau received over half a
million registered visitors, of which roughly one third were Polish citizens. The
share of international arrivals at Auschwitz has increased steadily from 47 per cent
in 1997 to 66 percent in 2004. The statistics for Auschwitz are gathered at the gate
of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and it is optional for individual visitors to register. Hence
the actual figure is thought to rise up to a million visitors per annum. All groups
are required to register before entering the museum / camp. (www.annefrank.org;
www.auschwitz.org.pl)

43

Graceland welcomes over 600 000 visitors each year, with an economic impact of
150 million dollars on Memphis per year (The Guardian, July 26, 2002). The
London Dungeon, also belonging to the more easy-going end of the destinations,
welcomes yearly over 750 000 visitors. Other dungeons affiliated to the London
Dungeon have been built elsewhere in Europe too, like in Hamburg and most
recently in Amsterdam in 2005.
For some destinations, dark tourism can be financially very beneficial. All dark
tourism destinations can be said benefit financially from tourism to some degree;
some benefit more, some less, depending on the commercial nature of the
destination. But the very significant aspect of dark tourism is the education it
delivers to the millions of visitors going to a number of destinations across the
world. The educational aspect is often central for dark tourism attractions.

Until now, we have become familiar with definitions of dark tourism, its history
and its different types, and introduced deaths place in society. Death is one of the
keywords in this paper. Along with the next chapter we move to the focal point of
this work, the dark tourists travel motivation, which has much to do with
concepts like curiosity and fascination of death.

44

Motivation to Dark Tourism The Intrigue of the Dark Side

It could be argued that we have always held a fascination with death, whether our
own or others, through a combination of respect and reverence or morbid curiosity
and superstition. However, it is (western) societys apparent contemporary
fascination with death, real or fictional, media inspired or otherwise, that is
seemingly driving the dark tourism phenomenon. (Stone 2006: 147)
A number of theories probing into the tourists mind have been developed and we
hereby investigate those that are most relevant in their ability to explain the appeal
of death and dying in the consumer. First, lets have a look at the effect media has
in creating the interest.

6.1

The contribution of media

As already mentioned in chapter 3.2, death had started to recede from public view
in the late 18th century. The trend continued increasingly so that by the midtwentieth century death had become virtually invisible, particularly in the Western
metropolises.
The written media responded in the nineteenth century by bringing to the fore not
only more depictions of death but depictions of more secular, violent, and
essentially uninstructive death. This meant that the entertainment value of death
had surpassed the value of its educative / informative counterpart.
What's more, the illustrated newspaper exponentially increased the number and
proportion of depictions of accidents and natural disasters: railroad crashes,
shipwrecks, explosions and floods. These had neither religious significance nor
redemptive force, but since they might happen to anyone, they may well have
contributed to general and unspecific increases in anxiety. Disasters are
undeniably news, but in other respects the papers were only responding to a

45

fascination with accounts of violent death that ran alongside the movement, which
attempted - if not to entirely wipe out - at least to beautify the end of life.
The news, which was heavily invested in descriptions and images of violent death
from the beginning, has never ceased to be so; the general opinion today is that it
has gone ever farther in the same direction. (Goldstein 1998: 39-40)
Media feeds the hunger for death, and the hunger grows the more it is fed.
Viewers get used to seeing death, imagery becomes increasingly violent when
closer and more powerful encounters with death are sought after. We are in a
treadmill with no signs for exit. Now lets get back to the core of the situation:
what is it that makes death and violence so appealing in the first place?

6.2

The dark tourist experience

The following story is completely fictional.


Guards are assaulting the prisoners: beating them, spitting on them, slicing their
skin with their Hitler Jugend -knives. The prisoners are begging: please, stop, no
more! They are wondering what in Gods name they had done to deserve it. They
are beaten with tycoons all over the body until there is no single solid bone in
their bodies. They wither in great pain and finally drift away to silence. The
guards have them thrown away outside to a ditch like dead animals. Only a pond
of blood reminds the victims once were there.
Whether this incident was a video clip, part of a short story, or any portrayal at all,
it seems impossible to find anything pleasurable in viewing it. Could the viewer
actually get excited of seeing something like this? It is difficult to imagine; the
mind is naturally prone not to think about it because it is naturally programmed to
seek away from personal suffering and pain. Is there another way to look at it?

46

As Goldstein reports: Reactions to displays of violence specifically may be


considered enjoyable and wholesome if they are deemed mediated by
identification with a successful aggressor. The aggressor, in this case the guard,
is a very powerful person just there and then. He has the divine power to decide
whether the prisoner should live or die. There is no way the prisoner could stand
up to the armed guard. The guard can do anything at all and walk away clean
without needing to expect any consequences. Placed in a safe setting like a movie
or a sanitized portrayal of death with sufficient distance to reality, the observer
may actually be able to enjoy the show. Goldstein emphasizes the fact that the
attainment of pleasure from violent spectacles requires identification with
aggressors and victims, whether they fight for justice or not:
-- people identify with fictional heroes, but also with the crudest of fictional
villains, in order to attain "vicariously" the gratifications that these agonists
experience. Through such identification, it is said; people transcend their limited
personal experience (Goldstein 1998: 163).
Goldstein also claims that the dramatic exposition that dwells on violence is
thought capable of freeing the consumer from conjectured fears and phobias,
distrusts, and ill emotions. Also here, identification and vicarious experience are
the keywords. (Goldstein 1998:184) This miraculous cleansing is deemed to
happen through a cathartic7 experience when the consumer has finished watching
a tragedy.
As Goldstein seems to stay strictly in the world of fiction when posing these
claims, could it be possible that also non-fictional portrayals of violence and death
could induce similar experiences? The undeniable popularity of the videos about
traffic accidents from light car crashes to fatal collisions and clips of people
getting hurt and even dying on-screen, all of which can be found in abundance on
the Internet, shows not only that is it possible to enjoy portrayals of real death, but
that it already is popular entertainment. Can we comfort ourselves with the notion
7

Catharsis. Sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes overwhelming feelings of


great pity, sorrow, laughter or any extreme change in emotion that results in the renewal,
restoration and revitalization for living. (www.wikipedia.org)

47

that the people who watch this kind of entertainment do it solely for empathy for
our fellow humans? Obviously we cannot.
However difficult it is to measure the pleasurable emotions in observing violence
and death, not to mention finding its core causes, we should at least give it a try. If
there is, as hypothesized, excitement of some sort in the experience of a dark
tourist, there also has to be an explanation.

6.3

Enjoyment of observing death

There have been some scientific, and also rather unscientific attempts to find the
causes for the enjoyment of observing portrayals of death and violence. As
previously shown, the pleasure doesnt necessarily arise from observation of death
itself, but from identification with the villains and victims involved. The theory
suggesting that the gratification comes from the person being able to transcend, in
other words to rise above his personal experience through an aggressor or victim,
is not enough to form the complete picture and it is surely not the only
explanation.
Some quite mystical accounts adding to the transcendence theory have been made.
Huxley (1971) refers to the radical inadequacy and isolation of human existence
to argue the rewards attainable through interfusion of self and other. "Ideally,"
Huxley states, "one would recognize and feel this interfusion with the company of
Good and the Just, with saints, angels, and the Deity. Alternatively, one might
hope to feel at least oneness with all of humanity. However, one can also
transcend normal existence through feeling the interfusion of one's existence with
the Evil and Unjust, with vampires, demons, and Satan". It is transcendence of
this kind that exposure to brutality and terror is supposed to foster. In common
language, the feeling of being together with the Evil could bring one to feel like
he is something greater, and so bring satisfaction. (Huxley 1971:67) How the
interfusion with Evil can make one feel more powerful is not perfectly clear.
However, increased amounts of self-mastery, control and competence through a

48

powerful ally could certainly satisfy some needs (see Self-esteem needs on the
Travel career needs ladder). The interfusion with a greater power could thus help
to fill a void that emerges from the need to have purpose in life and a feeling of
being part of something greater.
Another interesting viewpoint is that of Dicksteins proposed in 1984. Dickstein
suggests that, as we are brought up, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood,
we are taught to repress our fears and superstitions and to believe that the society
will protect us. If we do this, we are taught, others would too. Dickstein goes on:
But in some level we never really believe this. He argues that literary and
cinematic terror makes us vicariously seek for ways of coping with the insecurity,
which is caused by the disbelief in being safe: we dont actually trust in being
secured by the society.
It is claimed that displays of violence help people deal with real fears of things
that come from within and from outside and even to enable them to rehearse their
own deaths. Moreover, these displays are said to "help audiences to confront
personal guilt indirectly, so that they might break free from real or imagined sins
through the controlled trauma of the experience". (Rockett, 1988: 3) Controlled is
the word that needs to be stressed here. It means that no matter what happens in
the setting, the viewer/partaker can walk away freely at any time, should the
anxiety pour over his limits. There is a great resemblance with dark tourism: a few
hours visit to a site of death can already be mentally exhausting, but as the visitor
knows that it will last only for a short time, or until he no longer wants to stay, the
stress can be sustained. After the visit, it is relieving to jump on the bus and leave
the gory place behind.
If there is distrust in the societys ability to keep us safe and we are therefore
subconsciously feeling unprotected, watching death and getting close to it in order
to create a feeling of safety might seem quite far-fetched. On the other hand, as
common-sense psychology lets us assume: we are afraid of the unknown. In the
present-day society, this is what death and dying really have become. Through

49

becoming familiar with death and through understanding death and suffering, we
could be released from the fear, and be able to restore deaths place in the circle of
life. This would free us from escaping from death and so result in decreased
amounts of anxiety within ourselves. Perhaps in this way, it is possible that we are
able to experience relief at displays of death and suffering.
Let us move our attention to a real event in history, to the assassination of John F.
Kennedy in 1963. Would it be frightening, thrilling and somewhat eerie to be
sitting in his car when it all happened, even if you knew it was a just a repetition
of the actual events and you knew already what was ought to come? Anyway one
looks at it, for some the experience could indeed be exciting to varying degrees,
depending on the individual of course. Similarly exciting as in the combination of
fear and excitement when you are about to do the bungee jump, or when speeding
with the car so you can feel the adrenaline rushing all through the body. They all
offer thrilling experiences, no matter what the context.
Hence also the imaginary dark tourists experience, whose sole intention is to
meet death and the macabre, could be simplified down to sheer thrill seeking. In
this case, it is the encounter with death that is at the very core of generating the
mental stimuli, thus relevant to account fully for the travel motivation. This is
quite a generalized explanation on why the macabre has become a product for
consumption, but it is laid on a solid need-based foundation. People require
sufficient amounts of physical and mental stimuli in order to feel contented,
discontentment leads to seeking of additional stimuli. It can be said that in regard
to stimulation, there is also a balance state that the mind aims to reach. But it is
also dependent on the individuals previous experience: the level of stimulation
that was enough in the past will not be sufficient to satisfy the need in the future.
Theories tracing the origins of the sensation in the face of death and suffering are
various. Based on the accounts stated before and mixed by the variables of
individual interpretation and the type of a dark tourism destination, it is clear that
a unifying theory is undoable. Therefore, we must be satisfied with a number of

50

explanations that, from their own perspectives, contribute to explain an individual


experience.

6.4

Personal interpretation

We all interpret what we observe, in this case portrayals of violence and death,
according to our own experience and according to the context it is displayed in. If
the fictional story written before were a video clip of an old action film placed in a
prison environment, it would be somewhat meaningless to us. If we knew it was a
true story from the Killing Fields with real people in it, we would be likely to feel
pity and perhaps anger. If, taken still a step further, the prisoner had been our
grandfather and it was a true story of his last day, the reaction to the display would
be completely different. Should our grandfather have been the guard, yet another
interpretation of the same event would emerge.
Similarly, those who have a connection to the Holocaust on a personal level
through a family member for example, are prone to react differently to an
exhibition about the Holocaust to those who have no connection to it at all.
People are also different in sensitivity. For some, violence on television is too
much to watch, while others view it as entertainment. Head chopped of a villain
may be cool to a teenager, whereas his mother watching the same program is
forced to turn her eyes away. If we have seen much violence and dying on
television, it is possible we dont react unless the film is extremely cruel and
wretched, enough to make the head spin. On the other hand, having witnessed
much real suffering and dying may also make the person hypersensitive towards
portrayals of death and violence, real or fictional.
Different dark tourists can hence have a myriad of different experiences when
visiting a dark tourism destination, depending on their past, connection to the
event, and their personalities. Also the company the dark tourist is travelling with

51

can affect the experience remarkably. Group tourists and individual travellers can
have big differences in their experience.
Nonetheless, it is not only psychological factors that form the dark tourists
experience. Time too can change attitudes and our understanding of past events.

6.5

Effect of timely distance

As learned in defining the phenomenon of dark tourism, time is an important


factor in the interpretation of past events. According Lennon & Foley, dark
tourism is an intimidation of the very foundations of modernity (2000: 11).
Human rights, modern technology and science have all been abused in the past in
order to gain control, wealth or territory. Many such events have ended up with
tremendous human suffering and tragedy and many of those places are now dark
tourism destinations. If we think about medieval wars and the barbaric executions
of the era or gladiatorial fights far in the past, they do not shake the picture of our
current world. This is because they are so far apart in time from the contemporary
world that they cannot be fitted in the current context. Thus there is no anxiety or
worry about the modern society and the visiting such a site will not result in inner
turmoil.
Martin Luther King was a symbol of equality and thus a symbol of modernity. He
was the embodiment of all that the Ku Klux Klan8 despised. In 1968, he was
assassinated and the peoples picture of the civilized, equal world was turned
upside down. This event is in the past, and yet it is so close that it could happen
again. Moreover, still after the Second World War, mass murder and genocide
have happened in many parts of the world. This is an obvious source of anxiety in
our current world and as such it fully satisfies Lennon & Foleys requirements for
a dark tourism destination.
8

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is the name of past and present fraternal organizations in the United States
that speak for white supremacy, anti-Semitism and racism amongst other ideals.

52

As a generalized guideline, we can say that the closer the dark event is
chronologically, the stronger the impact and the darker the dark tourists
experience.

6.6

Dark tourism and curiosity

Having stories from friends, documentaries on television and numerous references


to destruction, suffering and dying presented allover in media, it is not surprising
there is so much interest in the hard side of life. As people have been introduced
to a topic, they are often prone to find out more information about it: people are
curious by nature.
Curiosity is more or less a natural instinct; curiosity confers a survival advantage
to certain species. Curiosity is common to human beings at all ages; from infancy
to old age, and is easy to observe in many other animal species. Many aspects of
exploration are shared among all beings and present in everyday life: babies
readily taste anything they get in their reach and the first thing dogs will do when
entering a new premises is sniffing all the corners. Strong curiosity is said to be
the main motivation of famous scientists. In fact, it is mainly curiosity that makes
a human being an expert in a certain field of knowledge.
Many things are also interesting to us only because they are rare or unusual.
Discussing peoples interest for violent entertainment, Carroll suggests that horror
films do not so much discharge negative emotions as appeal to our curiosity:
"horror attracts because anomalies9 command attention and elicit curiosity" (1990:
195). Horror movies present society's norms only to violate them. This violation
of norms holds a fascination for people to the extent that they rarely see these
violations in everyday experience. The prevailing norms in todays society are
supporting freedom of speech, equality and individual rights, for example. Many
events that dark tourism memorials and sites stand for were to violate these and
9

Something that distorts the rule, or is different from what is expected.

53

many other norms and often ended up with loss of many lives or even mass
murder. Hence dark tourism destinations could be thought of sites that simply
satisfy our curiosity above all.
Morbid curiosity is a term often used when discussing dark tourism motivation. It
is a compulsion, a drive fixed with excitement and fear to know about macabre
topics, such as death and horrible violence. In a milder form, however, this can be
understood as a cathartic form of behaviour or as something instinctive within
humans. This aspect of our nature is also often referred to as the 'Car Crash
Syndrome, arising from the fact that is seems impossible for passersby to ignore
such accidents. (www.wikipedia.org)
Before applying the presented theories to explain the dark tourists behaviour,
lets take a visitors view on real dark tourism sites. This is meant to help
in understanding the dark tourists experience in similar places: places of
torture, dying and saddening human fates.

54

Places of dark tourism

The descriptions in this chapter are grounded primarily on the authors personal
visits to the sites during spring and autumn 2006. Having observed these sites of
human tragedy contributes to more detailed descriptions and hopefully also to a
better understanding of the atmosphere typical at this type of dark destinations.
Source materials acquired from the sites and personal discussions with the
employees/site managers were used to build up the sites histories and factual
framework.

7.1

Killing Fields of Cambodia

It was year 1975 in small peasant country of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge had
seized power in guidance of their leader Pol Pot. During the first few days after
Cambodia had become Democratic Kampuchea, all cities were evacuated,
hospitals cleared, factories emptied, money abolished and monasteries shut. The
goal of the new rule was to turn back the clock in Cambodia and make it the
number one communist state, following the example of Maos China. They
planned to expel or destroy existing social groups, for example, people of foreign
origin, education or employment.
On its quest for total power in the country, Pol Pots Communist Party of
Kampuchea (CPK) felt no pity. One famous motto, regarding the New People,
was: To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss. New people meant
civilian Cambodians. Anyone who had been living in the urban areas before 1975,
were forced to move to rural areas and were made a New Person. Under the
communist regime, approximately 1,7 million people perished. They died of
executions, starvation and forced labour. (Kiernan 1996: 8, 27)

55

The notorious interrogation centre S-21 of the Khmer Rouge in central Nom Penh
(capital of Cambodia) was used to imprison people, usually for some months.
During this time they were ferociously tortured. The purpose was to force
confessions out of them, so they could then be exterminated in the Killing Fields
just outside the city. Out of 17 000 prisoners in Tuol Sleng, seven are known to
have survived.
Nowadays the Tuol Sleng prison and the Killing Fields are popular tourist
destinations in Cambodia. The prison has been converted to a museum, though it
is very plain and simple in presentation. Before the Khmer Rouge coup detat it
was as a high school. The former cells / interrogation rooms have metal bunks in
the middle of the room and a photo on the wall showing how the prisoner was
tortured or simply its result: a dead corps. Some of the rooms have torture
instruments such as metal rods placed on the bed.
The Khmer Rouge took a photo of every prisoner in S-21. These photos are
arranged onto big boards in the second building of the museum. The eye-to-eye
contact with the victims causes the biggest impact on the visitor. The faces are
grave; some of still show a glimpse of hope, some eyes have already dimmed.
There are faces of young children and men and women at all ages. On the second
floor of the second museum building there are biographies of both former
prisoners and officers at the Tuol Sleng prison. The third building on the right side
when looking from the entrance gate offers more pictures and a repeating short
film telling more about the mass murder of the Cambodians. On the way out it is
possible to buy literature about the event in a kiosk placed inside the frankly
said quite a beautiful courtyard.
Once you have visited the Tuol Seng prison, you will logically continue to the
Killing Fields about twenty minutes to half an hour drive away on a moped taxi (a
popular and affordable means of transport in the area). The dusty and bumpy rural
roads lead you to Choeung Ek, where at the end of the road it is difficult even to
say you are at the site of mass murder. The site itself where 17 000 people were

56

executed may seem surprisingly small. Quite much in the centre of the site there
is a small tower-like building stacked with shelves. When you get closer to it, you
notice something extraordinary: over 8000 human skulls are put on the shelves,
arranged by age and gender. On the floor under the shelves there are the clothes of
the victims, cleaned and put there after the excavation of the mass graves in 1988.
One may start to wonder: is this kind of presentation necessary? One thing is for
sure: it is powerful.
An open-air building some tens of metres away from the white tower offers a
detailed map of the site and has further information on several large glass-covered
boards hung on the wall. Not far from either one of the buildings there are several
hollows in the ground. The information plates tell they are the pits where the
victims were thrown after execution. Half the corpses now lack heads, which are
presented in the white tower. Under some of the trees, there are human bones still
lying around like wooden sticks. Until now, most visitors have seen enough of the
Killing Fields. A bookshop selling books about the mass murder and genocide is
just outside the compound.
The prison in Nom Penh and the Killing Fields are positioned at the darkest edge
of the dark tourism continuum. On average 200 visitors visit the Killing Fields per
day. The surprising fact is that only three per cent of these visitors are Cambodian.
For comparison, in Auschwitz-Birkenau the host natives constitute one third of all
visitors.
The Killing Fields and Tuol Seng are very plain and are not at all commercialized
apart from the book sales on-site and the possibility to engage a guide. These can
hardly be called commercialization either, since their main purpose is education,
not moneymaking. The authentic nature of these dark sites increases their appeal
among dark tourists. The Killing Fields have come to stay.

57

7.2

The River Kwai Bridge

The River Kwai Bridge was a part of the railway built by Allied prisoners of war
and Asian workers under the Japanese occupation during 1942-43. The route was
planned between Kanchanabury in Thailand to Moulmein in western Burma to
support the Japanese occupational forces in Burma and the planned invasion of
India.
The quarter of a million people forcedly or otherwise employed people were
living and working in varying conditions at the construction camps. Often there
were shortages of food, medical supplies and sanitary facilities. In many cases the
camps were a living hell. The working days were inhuman and in the tropical
climate many deceases were lurking for the malnourished and exhausted
labourers: malaria, cholera and the tropical ulcer were common.
During the sixteen months of construction of the 416 km track, a hundred
thousand workers died. Some other estimations about the death toll are much
higher. There are three museums dedicated the horrors of the Thai-Burma
Railway, two of which are at the other terminal point in Kanchanabury: the
Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, opened in March 2003, and the JEATH War
Museum.
The JEATH War Museum (Japan, England, America, Australia, Thailand,
Holland) is an open air bamboo hut museum on the bank of the Mae Klong River
and has been built as a copy of an original prison camp and established to collect
various items connected with the construction of the Death Railway by prisoners
of war during the Second World War, 1942-1943.
The museum is divided into two sections: Section I and Section II. Section I
displays a lot of pictures of the prisoners of war during their real life in the camp
and Section II displays the instruments that the prisoners of war used while they
were in the camp.

58

The first thing that strikes you when you visit the museum is the bamboo hut with
a collection of photographs displayed. The hut is a replica of the conditions the
POW's (prisoners of war) were forced to live in. The museum displays graphic
images of the terrible conditions inflicted on the many men that died and the many
that survived. To bring these atrocities to the public domain, the museum exhibits
many photographs taken of real situations either by Thai's or POW's. Alike other
war and death-related museums, there are also many real accounts written by
former POW's, their relatives and friends.
Not a long drive away from the museum, there are the remains of about 7000 war
prisoners put neatly in a cemetery. From the bank of river Kwai it is possible to
take a scenic train ride on the Death Railway to get a good look at the railway and
the sceneries around it. Many tourists can also be found walking along the bridge
on a sunny day, posing and taking pictures with the infamous river Kwai in the
background. (Image Makers 2005: 10, 15, 18, 25, 41)

59

Focus on Auschwitz

This chapter is an introduction to the history of the largest of Nazi death camps
and at the same time, a descriptive analysis of the most infamous dark tourism
destination. The author visited Auschwitz in October 2006 mainly for research
purposes, but there was plenty of time for observing people visiting both the
museum and the camp sites. School children, adults and elderly; Jews, Christians
and Muslims; Poles, Germans and Americans; teachers, doctors, historians;
married couples and singles; men and women: people from literally all walks of
life could be seen visit the Museum each day. Auschwitz has become (or more
correctly: has been made) an emblem of tolerance, individual freedom, equality
and unity of mankind. It stands for all that once was punishable by death.

8.1

Camp history in short

The site of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, is the
best-known place of martyrdom and destruction in the world. This camp has
become a symbol of the Holocaust, of genocide and terror, of the violation of
basic human rights and of what racism, xenophobia10, chauvinism and intolerance
can lead to. The name of the camp has become a synonym for the breakdown of
modern civilization and culture. (Swiebocki 2003: 6)
The Nazi vision of the thousand-year Reich envisaged a whole new Europe.
Germans and the Nordic blood were considered superior to anything else, and
hatred of democracy and Marxism were prevailing ideologies of the Nazi regime.
Another fundamental principle was the Germans right to Lebensraum (living
space), which meant to extend far beyond the German borders. The Jews were the
main targets of extermination to achieve a racially pure state, but the purification
extended also to other groups, such as the mentally challenged, homosexuals and
the Gypsy people.
10

Fear or dislike of foreigners.

60

The SS (Schutzstaffel11, German for Protective Squadron) founded Auschwitz in


the spring of 1940 as a concentration camp, similar to those that already existed in
Nazi Germany. Following the occupation of Poland in 1939, the mass arrests of
Poles had filled all the existing prisons to overflow. A camp was suggested to be
set up in order to keep up with the flow of political prisoners. The 20 prewar
barracks in the town of Oswiecim in southwest of Poland were found suitable for
the purpose as no construction work was required and the town had convenient
road and railroad connections. These reasons encouraged the Nazis to expand the
camp on an enormous scale. After the first political prisoners arrived at Auschwitz
on June 14 1940, by mid-1941 also Soviet POWs, Czechs, French and
Yugoslavians were being sent there. These deportees consisted mainly of the
intelligentsia and other dangerous elements of the occupied countries, amongst
them a number of Jews.
Auschwitz started to serve a second function in 1942. It became the largest
extermination camp in the Third Reich. In its operation from 1940 to its liberation
in January 1945 approximately 1.5 million people were murdered in the camp.
Most of the records were destroyed prior to liberation and thus it is impossible to
know the exact death toll. Gas chambers became the notorious instrument for
mass murder. At least 1 100 000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz and on the
physical examination of the SS doctors upon arrival, 70-75 % of the newcomers
were sent to death in the gas chambers. In most part, they were elderly, women
and children and those otherwise considered unfit for hard physical labour. If
prisoners were not executed or gassed, they usually died of plagues, malnutrition,
physical abuse and occasionally of the inhumane medical experiments conducted
by Dr Joseph Mengele. (Swiebocki 2003: 8)

11

The SS was established in the 1920s as an elite personal-guard unit for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Later one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. (www.wikipedia.org)

61

8.2

Establishment of the museum

Months after the end of the Second World War and the liberation of the camp, a
group of Polish survivors from Auschwitz began to spread the idea of establishing
a museum in memory of the victims of the death camp. In July 1947 the site was
called into being as Oswiecim-Brzezinka State Museum, secured by a law to
protect the grounds.
The museums task was to secure the grounds and buildings of the camp and to
collect and gather together evidence and material related to the Nazi crimes so that
they could be studied and made accessible to the public. There are 154 original
camp buildings in the Museum and Memorial (56 at Auschwitz I and 98 at
Birkenau).
Thousands of objects belonging to the people who had been doomed to die were
found at the site of the camp or nearby after liberation, including suitcases, Jewish
prayer garments, artificial limbs, cooking pots, glasses, shoes and tonnes of
human hair. All of these amongst many other exhibits are on display in the
Museum.
Auschwitz museum is very active in its quest for educating the public. The
Museum carries out scholarly research, organizes exhibitions shown in Poland and
other countries, issues its own publications, organizes lecturers, conferences,
seminars, and symposia for teachers and students from Poland and other countries
and offers a year-long postgraduate course for Polish teachers on Totalitarianism,
Nazism and the Holocaust. Most of the education happens nevertheless amongst
the visitors to the Museum. Up to date an estimated 28 000 000 people have
visited the museum.
The mission of the museum is not only to present the history as it happened, but
also to make people remember the victims of the camp through not only the
statistics but as real and individual people, who suffered extraordinary atrocities

62

and for the most part, passed away here. Anniversary meetings are held to gather
former prisoners and their families, government officials and media together to
learn over again about this important lesson in our history.

8.3

Inside the museum

Both the former concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau are


accessible to the public. Places in the camps where specific events have taken
place are marked with black granite tablets with descriptions and pictures from the
time the camp was still in operation. They help the visitor better to understand
what happened there, since much was destroyed by the Germans when they fled
from the approaching Red Army. The remains of gas chambers in Birkenau
(blown up with dynamite) are described with this kind of tablets and between the
ruins there is the International Monument erected in 1967. The grand monument
was built on top of the railway track that led to the Crematoria IV and V further
away.
Several buildings at Auschwitz I are used for the so-called national exhibitions
and the general exhibition. The national exhibitions illustrate the life and fate of
the prisoners from different countries who were deported to the camp. The general
exhibition consists of the collected objects that once belonged to the prisoners.
It is mostly school groups and other groups that pervade the silent alleys between
the cellblocks in Auschwitz and amidst the wooden barracks in Birkenau. From
about ten in the morning onwards the museum in Auschwitz I is full of people:
school children, tour guides, and interested by-passers walk around in the museum
waiting to go on their scheduled tour. The clerks working at the information desk
are very busy coordinating tour guides to different groups. The atmosphere feels
as if it were any ordinary museum. All visitors know however that this is a place
where people were murdered by the thousand, and hence some caution can be
sensed in the air. After the visit some seem relieved, others clearly anxious. The

63

usual way to visit the museum is to start with Auschwitz I and then move on to
Birkenau afterwards. A free shuttle bus connection is established between the two
camps. In the vastness of the Birkenau camp, where up to 100 000 prisoners could
be held at one time, groups and scattered individual visitors move along the
railway track and wander around the empty barracks that used to house the
prisoners. About 90 % of the barracks in Birkenau had been destroyed, but the
ones that remain unveil the horrendous living conditions the prisoners had to face.
Information tablets are placed along the recommended route of visitation to allow
the visitor to get a grasp of what happened and where amongst the numerous
similar barracks.
Auschwitz is still a place of horror, even though the factories of death, the gas
chambers and crematoria have not been active for over sixty years. Nevertheless,
that time is reawakened to anyone who visits the museum and gets close to the
unimaginable terror that once ruled there. Visitors motives and feelings to this
site are measured and discussed in the next chapters.

64

Research

The Oxford English Dictionary (www.askoxford.com) defines research as, the


systematic study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new
conclusions. The end product of the research endeavor is not a set of findings or a
few themes. It is rather a theoretical formulation that gives understanding about
how persons or groups experience and respond to events that occur. In this study it
is desired to find out how visitors respond to the visit and what induces their
motivation to travel in the first place.
One common way to lead research is to formulate the research question in form of
a hypothesis. The hypothesis is actually a supposition, based on the researchers
knowledge at the time of starting the research. Hypothesis is then used as a
starting point for further investigation. (Lewin 2004: 49)

9.1

Research background

The research location was set at a very early stage of planning the work. The most
infamous and in that respect most impressive dark tourism destination in the
world seemed to be an obvious choice. For reaching the aim and testing the
hypothesis the best sample of people was considered to be found just here.
During the trip to Poland the nature of the research subject became clear: it was no
longer a scientific game of statistics about past events; now real people with real
grief, hurt and suffering played the central role. Concern about empathy and
sensitivity arose in regard of the questionnaire: were the questions sensitive
enough, so they would not seem disrespectful or insult those who actually lived to
see the Holocaust? This is a grave question, and not only to those carrying out
research on such sites. After careful consideration, the research was eventually
followed through according to the original plan.

65

9.2

Research methods

Statistical research methods are a wide range of tools and techniques that can be
used to describe and interpret data that are quantitative or can be measured
numerically. Numerical data can make a valuable contribution in both quantitative
and qualitative research whether it be simple percentages or the results of
complicated techniques. Numbers can also be used to measure opinions and
attitudes through ranked responses to data collection methods such as survey
questions or structured observations.

9.2.1

Questionnaires and the two methods

Questionnaires provide a way of gathering structured and unstructured data from


respondents in a standardized way either as part of a structured interview or
through self-completion. Often, the data collected are numerical (a measurement)
or can be represented numerically (ranked in order of preference for example) and
can thus be analysed using statistical techniques.
(Lewin 2004: 219)
Quantitative research investigates the covariation12 within large data-sets, that is, a
relatively small number of features is studied across a considerable number of
cases. So the focus is on variables and relationships among variables in an effort
to identify general patterns of covariation (e.g. different age groups with different
travel motivations), often in the format that variations in a set of dependent
variables are explained in terms of variations in a set of independent variables.
Because manipulation and control of possible responses is characteristic to the
quantitative approach, the questionnaire requires a long time for preparation.
Qualitative research, on the other hand, is especially used to study common
properties within a relatively small number of cases of which many aspects are
12

A measure of how two variables both vary relative to one another. Covariation indicates
similarities between two variables. (www.socialresearchmethods.com)

66

taken into account. (Ten Have 2004: 173) The qualitative researcher is the primary
instrument for data collection and analysis. Data is mediated through this human
instrument, rather than through inventories, questionnaires, or machines.
Qualitative data could be considered as shaping the entity to be studied. It
acknowledges the human instrument as forming the context and multiple realities
within which phenomena operate. The real world is seen as having several
realities rather than one uniaque absolute truth (as opposed to quantitative
methods). (Davies 2003: 104)
If anonymity is required in doing the research, specifically if sensitive data is
being compiled, this human-factor may prove troublesome. Advantages in
interpreting the qualitative research data lie with the notion that the researcher is
on the location and so able to understand the atmosphere and the context where
the data is given.

9.2.2

Method choice for the research

The research instrument used in this study is a questionnaire that is seeking to find
out the visitors travel motivation to the dark tourism site and also his or her
experience, which is to confirm or to disprove the hypothesis presented in chapter
1.1. In addition the questionnaire aims to get an understanding about the dark
tourists personal typologies.
The quantitative method was a rational choice for three reasons. Firstly, as the
author was to carry out the research himself at the chosen location, Auschwitz,
there was limited time and funds for the conduct. A quantitative questionnaire is a
fast way to gather information from a large number of people. The qualitative
method would, whether in written or oral form, take a great deal of time and the
shortage of time would make it difficult to get a sample sufficient in both variety
and number. Secondly, the anonymity of a qualitative questionnaire enables
respondents to say things they would not in a personal interaction. In an interview,
it would be unlikely to hear a visitor returning from a gas chamber say: It

67

actually got me excited! The third reason, a very practical one, is that the mass of
possible research targets consists of many nationalities each speaking their
languages. The majority of people arriving at Auschwitz are Poles, Germans,
Americans and people from Israel. It is easy to translate and analyze a quantitative
questionnaire in any language, but qualitative interviews would in this case
require understanding subtle expressions in many languages and cultural contexts.

9.3

Design of the questionnaire

The questionnaire consists of three parts: background information, travel


motivation and experience and personal characteristics. There are 15 questions in
total on four pages, of which the last one is solely for open comments and
feelings. Background information section (questions 1-7) finds out the following
things about each tourist: nationality, age group, gender, with whom the tourist
has come, the tourists linkage to the Holocaust and his previous travel experience
to dark tourism destinations, including Auschwitz. On this background it is easier
to reflect the motives, experience and traveler typography, as followed in the next
sections.
The second section is Travel Motivation, comprising of questions 8 and 9. Firstly
it seeks to find external factors that might affect the travel decision. Question 8
tries to find out which media have effect on the decision. On basis of all answers,
the most powerful medium affecting dark tourism decisions is to be established.
Question 9 maps the reasons why the respondent has decided to come to
Auschwitz. This should answer to the question: why do people engage in this
kind of activity?, which is the main aim of the research.
The individual experience-section (questions 10-12) is aimed to map the feelings
that the visitor goes trough during the visit and if it has effect on his attitude
towards death. This section is the one to really test the hypothesis, specifically in
question 10. It asks the respondent to evaluate various feelings during the visit

68

(including excitement and thrills) and if the visitor has felt compassion or pity
toward the victims. Question 12 encourages the respondent to freely write about
his/her feelings during and after the visit. It has to be noted that following
consultations from Polish citizens, of the Polish version of the questionnaire
options exciting was removed and thrilling was replaced with morbid
curiosity in question 10 because they were said to be too rude and straightforward
to ask from Poles. In Poland, having lost one tenth of their people under the Nazi
regime and having the worst site of mass murder in worlds history on their soil, it
is a very sensitive topic and it has to be addressed with caution.
The third and last section, Personal Characteristics comprising of questions 13-15
is only to establish a referential travelers typology of each respondent based on
personality traits of intra-extraversion, Plogs theory of psycho-allocentricism and
Zuckermans thrill-seeking theory. This is to determine if dark tourists could be
said to have special characteristics as travelers.

9.4

Target group for the survey

Tourism and leisure research can focus on a specific population or complete set of
units being studied (for example, all foreign tourists in one country or all tour
operators working in a region) when time, costs and accessibility often prohibit
the collection of data from every member or about every item. In these situations
it is necessary to select a representative sample of the population, one in which the
same range of characteristics or attributes can be found in similar proportions. It is
only with a truly representative sample that you can generalize the research
findings to the whole population, which is the ideal situation in the wake of
results. (Lewin 2004: 217)
The target group was the tourists visiting the Holocaust Museum and the
extermination camps in Auschwitz in Poland. The point was to go to an authentic
dark tourism destination where real dark tourists go and therefore also the
hypothesized dark excitement could most likely be found. The respondents were

69

chosen randomly regardless of nationality, gender and age (young children were
excluded), which was done to get as broad a sample as possible. The target
visitors were all given the questionnaire only after the visit to avoid getting any
guesses for responses.

9.5

Implementation of the research

With the approval of customer services staff and museum management, the author
was able to travel to the hot spot of dark tourism to conduct the research. The
main place for handing out questionnaires was the cafeteria inside Auschwitz I
Museum.
The visitors, whether individual or with groups, returned after their visit for a
snack or a cup of coffee at the cafeteria. This was the time to ask for their
assistance in a small survey. Many had come with a group and didnt have time
for the survey. Thankfully, there were enough people who would devote a tenminute period of their time for the questionnaire. Volunteers were first checked
that they indeed have been around the museum and the death camp and were then
explained what the questionnaire was about. They were offered assistance at any
time if there was something unclear about the composition of the questions or the
questions themselves. The time the respondents took to answering all the
questions varied between 5 and 15 minutes. A small sweet reward was handed to
everyone returning a filled questionnaire.
Obtaining a sufficient number of responses required three days of gathering
answers. Two thirds of the responses were received at the cafeteria at Auschwitz I
during days one and three, and the remaining third on day two outside the
entrance/exit gate of the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau II.

70

9.6

Reliability and validity

Reliability refers to the stability or consistency of measurements; that is whether


or not the same results would be achieved if the test or measure was applied
repeatedly. Validity refers to whether or not the measurement collects the data
required to answer the research question. A measure can be reliable (always
generate the same result) but not valid (not measure the intended concept). (Lewin
2004: 216)
For the sake of reliability in intercultural surveys it is mandatory that the
respondents have a fluent understanding of the language in which the survey is
conducted. In some cases, translations made by native speakers of the target
country, who can also understand the context in which the survey is realized, are
the only way to come through.
In the use of rating questions, as done much in this questionnaire, it is necessary
to think if the respondent should be forced to give an opinion, or if I dont know
option should be used. This is usually done through even-numbered scales (for
example 1 to 4 or 1 to 6), which leave no choice in the middle for taking a neutral
stand.
As we have learned before, there are many different types of dark tourism
destinations and in several shades of seriousness. Other places are far more liberal
in the sense of behavior code and respect, others ask for a certain type of mind set
before entering. This is not to say that the choice of location in hunting for the
dark side in our travel motivation was erroneous, but that the sensitivity of the
site was in itself prone to hide away the most obvious signs of exhilaration. This
poses certain challenges for the data analysis. As discovered in the process of
designing the questions for the questionnaire, also a certain level of consideration
and censorship was necessary. So the most straightforward and for that purpose
the most straight-on-target questions aiming directly at the hypothesized dark
side had to be omitted. Nevertheless, a good deal of questions were included in

71

the final version of the questionnaire that clearly show whether there was
something beyond the usual in the visitors experience and motivation.
Question marks were given as an option to avoid guessing when using Likertscales13 in measuring different impressions. The scales used were so-called forced
scales, but with the possibility to pick the question mark. People seemed to take
their time in answering the questions, albeit after the first two pages slight
frustration was visible in many cases. Nevertheless, complaints about the length
of the questionnaire were very few. Also the questions that had been checked by
many people before arriving at Auschwitz seemed to be easily understandable. At
this stage, the omittance of the most striking questions took place in order to be
considerate to anyone who may have close contact with the Holocaust. Even so,
one respondent was visibly upset by a question about the experience. Generally,
however, the questionnaire was said to be convenient in spite of its length. Some
respondents found the questions interesting and many were eager to inquire about
the motivation for the research.
For the reasons mentioned above, native speakers were employed to translate the
questionnaires into German and Polish. One of the translators had even visited
Auschwitz himself, which enabled him to understand the aim of the questions
even better. The translation process was assisted with the author to ensure that all
expressions were understood correctly. The research instrument was then tested to
make sure people would really understand what is being asked.

13

Respondents are requested to specify their level of agreement to a statement.

72

10 The results of the research


As well as a wide range of statistical tests that can be applied to data, tables and
graphical representations are often used as analytical tools. Tables can be used to
present data in an easy-to-understand format. Graphs and charts can present data
visually and often highlight patterns and issues that may be drawn out in
interpretations of the data. (Lewin 2004: 221)
Causality can be inferred if it can be demonstrated that changing the value of one
variable, the independent variable, has an effect on the value of another, the
dependent variable. It is a means of explaining a phenomenon through its likely
causes. This is used as the main tool for analyzing the results of this research.
Different motivations, for example, can be reflected against previous experience.

10.1 The survey pool of respondents


During the three-day visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim
(Auschwitz is the German translation for the locality), Poland, a total of 103
responses were received. There were respondents from 16 different countries,
mostly from Poland (32 responses), Great Britain (19) and Germany (14
responses). The proportions of the top three countries match almost exactly the
actual visitor numbers by country of origin that visit the museum. Other countries,
in the order of response amounts were: Finland, USA, Israel, Ireland, Canada,
Italy, Holland and Iceland. Single-response countries were Switzerland, Denmark,
Norway, Turkey and Slovenia.
The two most represented age groups were 20-30 -year-olds (26 respondents) and
those under 20 years of age (22). All other age groups by the interval of ten years
up to 80 years of age and also those over 80, were equally represented.

73

The questionnaires were translated to three languages: English, Polish and


German. All in all, 79 out of 103 respondents (or 77 per cent) were able to answer
the questions with their mother tongue. Others assured they were fluent enough in
either one of the languages so they would be able to understand the questions.
They were all offered assistance in case there were was something unclear with
the questions.
Most of the visitors came with a friend or relative (38 respondents or 39 % of all).
Nearly as many came with a school group (28 respondents) or other group (32). A
tiny minority of 4 came to Auschwitz alone.
Interestingly, as many as 25 % of the visitors had been to Auschwitz before and as
many as 57 per cent had previously visited other museums or sites related to
death.
A great majority (79 respondents) said they were not personally connected to the
Holocaust. 20 respondents were connected, whether through a friend, relative,
family member or through having experienced the Holocaust themselves. One
respondent replied being fundamentally connected through love for mankind.
The sample represents 16 different nationalities, 8 different age groups, people
that have come alone and with others; it represents people who already have been
to Auschwitz or other dark tourism destination and those who havent. It
represents people who have experienced the Holocaust first-hand and others who
have no connection to it at all. Hence the sample is very suitable for giving a
thorough understanding about the travel motivation and special characteristics of a
dark tourist.

74

10.2 Dark travellers personality profile


The last page of the questionnaire is dedicated to finding out the personality type
and its place on the sensation-seeking scale for each respondent. There are six
questions aimed to test if the respondent is more psycho- or allocentric based on
Plogs theory. Four questions are set out to test the respondent on the introvertextrovert scale. An additional 12 True or False -questions are devoted to measure
the sensation-seeking level of each respondent.
Because some respondents thought the questionnaire was too long (3 pages and
one for open comments) and to some there was no link between this section and
the rest of the questionnaire, this page was sometimes left blank. Nevertheless, a
good amount of data was received to measure each of the personal characteristics.

10.2.1 Correlation measurement


Pearsons correlation coefficient is a very common tool for analyzing the
interdependence of two variables and it is also used in this work. Cohen (1988),
for example, has suggested the following interpretations for correlations in
psychological research:
Table 2. Correlation interpretation
Correlation Negative

Positive

Small

0.29 to 0.10 0.10 to 0.29

Medium

0.49 to 0.30 0.30 to 0.49

Large

1.00 to 0.50 0.50 to 1.00

As Cohen has observed, however, such criteria as shown in Table 2 are in some
ways arbitrary and should not be interpreted too strictly. This is because the
interpretation of a correlation coefficient depends on the context and purpose. A
correlation of 0.9 may be very low if one is verifying a physical law using highquality instruments, but may be regarded as very high in the social sciences where
there may be a greater contribution from complicating factors. Lets think of a

75

correlation between the cost of a house and the persons income. Presumably, the
more the person earns, the more expensive the house will be. The correlation will
now be positive (the more the more), lets say 0,60, and it is significant at the
0,02 (2 / 100) scale. According to the table above, the correlation is large and the
possibility that it is sheer coincidence is only two out of one hundred. The result
can then be considered quite reliable. A correlation between a persons income and
number of old clothes in the closet will evidently be negative, as the more the
person earns, the less he is likely to have old clothes.

10.2.2 Allocentricism and extraversion


Out of 92 valid responses, 57 were found slightly or strongly allocentric.
Remaining 35 were categorized as slightly or strongly psychocentric. Fig. 8 shows
both the respondents psychographic typologies as well as the overall extraversion
graph.

52

48
Extroversion

32

Plog's typology

20
12
3

Strongly
allocentric/
extrovert

Slightly
allocentric/
extrovert

9
3
Slightly
psychocentric/
introvert

Strongly
psychocentric/
introvert

Number of cases

Figure 8. The visitors personality traits

Whereas the majority were on the allocentric side within Plogs theory, the most
of the respondents were categorized as introverts on the extraversion scale. Yet
some correlation between these two personality traits was found (Pearson two-

76

tailed correlation coefficient: 0,324, significant at 0,05-level) also in this study, as


the topic was already discussed in chapter 3.2 based on Jackson & Whites theory
about personal indicators for four different personality types. The same theory is
applicable here, as the same two variables were used in the questionnaire. The
data gathered from the questionnaire, placed on the matrix looks as presented in
Fig.9.
Figure 9. Four traveller personality types
Allocentric

Explorer

Adventurer

1,00

1,50

2,00
4,00

3,50

3,00

Introvert

2,50

2,00

1,50

1,00

Extrovert

2,50

3,00

3,50

Guided

4,00

Psychocentric

Groupie

We can see that the most of the dots (respondents) are placed to the left side of
Fig. 9, which means that respondents are mainly introvert. Also, the majority are
above the central line, which points to the fact that the respondents are mostly
allocentric. The dispersion of respondents between the four personality types goes
as follows: 39 out of 87 respondents are explorers, 25 belong to the Guided-, 19 to
the Adventurer and 6 to the Groupie-category.
Thus, most of the respondents can be said to match the definition Explorer,
proposed by Jackson & White:
The explorer follows his own time and has no timetables. His aim is to get to
know hosts and their unique culture to enrich his own knowledge in secluded,

77

discrete destinations. The explorer is not organized, not controlled, and seeks
excitement and challenges. Normally, he is quiet in groups and seeks to avoid
crowds (see to other definitions in chapter 3.2)
This definition could be thought of as the generalized personality profile of a dark
tourist who visiting a destination at the darkest edge of dark tourism destinations.
We have to keep in mind, however, that each destination has its special
characteristics and so the profile can be applied directly only to those, who visit
the memorial museum in Auschwitz.

10.2.3 Visitors sensation seeking tendency


Zuckermans sensation-seeking test brought about rather expected results. 5 of the
88 respondents qualified as highly sensation-seeking, while 16 scored not at all
sensation-seeking. A vast majority were between the two extremes, 34 were
categorized moderately and 33 little sensation seeking. The sensation seeking
results on the dark tourists did not prove to differ from the general public, as a bell
curve of the results could be formed (small part of people in the extremes
majority in the middle section). The sensation-seeking indicators used in the
questionnaire were:
-

thrill- and adventure seeking (TAS)

experience-seeking (ES)

boredom susceptibility (BS)

disinhibition (DIS).

Figure 10 on the next page shows the respondents are categorized according to
each indicator.

78

Figure 10. Respondents categorization according to Different sensation-seeking

Number of cases

factors
30
25

Experience seeking

20
15

Boredom
susceptibility
Disinhibition

10
5
0

Ab
o

Ve
r

st
ro

ng
St ly
ro
ng
ve
av ly
er
a
M
o d ge
er
at
el
y
Li
t
Ve tle
ry
lit
No tle
ta
ta
ll

Thrill-seeking

The most striking thing about Figure 10 is the unity between the sensation seeking
factors ES, BS and DIS. They go along in nearly a single line. TAS-curve is the
only one to diverge from the rule. This table only shows the amounts of
respondents that match the criteria in each category and they do seem to be
amazingly similar. This means that there are as many strongly experience seeking
as there are strongly disinhibited travellers and so on. Logically we might think,
then, that if a person is strongly experience seeking, he would measure strongly
on all the other sensation seeking attributes as well. This would form consistent
lines as presented in Fig. 10. This is not the case, however.
When we move to the individual level, that is comparing the different factors
similarity for each person separately, the consistency drops dramatically.
Pearsons correlation coefficient varies between 0,291 (small correlation) to 0,354
(medium) amongst Experience-seeking, Disinhibition and Boredom susceptibility
at the 0,01-level. Only experience seeking and thrill seeking are related with a
near-strong correlation of 0,399 at the 0,01-level. These results are to show that
even though different factors within the sensation-seeking scale are equally much
represented, the factors may vary quite much within each respondent. So for one
person, levels of thrill-seeking, experience-seeking, disinhibition and boredom

79

susceptibility can actually be very inconsistent. This tells us why most of the
surveyed dark tourists are only moderately sensation-seeking. If each of the
sensation seeking variables went hand-in-hand, we would find much more
respondents at the extreme ends of the continuum (highly sensation-seeking or not
at all sensation-seeking).

10.2.4 Special interest group


There were 9 respondents to score highly on all three personality measurement
scales: allocentricism, extroversion and sensation seeking. They also evaluated
very highly to commemoration, education and curiosity in the travel motives
section and feeling moved, shocked and angry in the Individual Experience
section of the questionnaire. Their age range was broad: from 60 years to below
20. Most of them had visited other dark tourism destinations before and all felt
more interested in similar destinations in the future. We could call this group the
Outgoing Adventurers. None of them passed the hypothesis test, however, so they
belong to the lighter category of dark travellers with a presumably lighter
thanatourism element.

10.3 Things that influenced the travel decision


As previously said, media has a powerful effect on dark tourism because it is able
to create instant awareness of incidents that happen anywhere in the world. For
more distant events, the written media, books and films have at least equally
significant impact on peoples knowledge about them. An abundance of movies
and documentary films about the Holocaust have been produced during the past
six decades. Moreover, there are literally thousands of books and articles about
Auschwitz and the Holocaust, handled from the historical, ethical, sociological
and religious perspectives just to mention a few, and increasingly so, also from the
tourism point of view - that is, the study of dark tourism.

80

In order to get an idea of what factors play parts in the dark tourists decisionmaking process, the questionnaire prompted respondents to choose from a list of
alternatives and asked them to write down the things that influenced their visit to
Auschwitz. The alternatives were Friends and Family, Television, Written articles,
Films, Documentary films and Books. Any number of choices could be checked,
and the results were measured only in terms of how many references they were
given.
Amongst the 101 responses to this question, and respondents checked two factors
on average. Clearly the most frequently mentioned factor were documentaries
with a yield of 54 responses. 39 respondents mentioned books and every third
respondent said films, television and written articles had influenced their decision
to come to Auschwitz. Of the above factors, family and friends had affected the
travel decision least, nevertheless with a share of 29 answers.
Documentaries got by far strongest references from the under 20-year-olds. Out of
all 57 references in this question from the age group, documentaries got 16,
whereas written articles and books were second-most mentioned with 9
references. Interestingly, amongst 20-30 year old respondents the two main
influences to their travel decision came from books (11 of 45) and family and
friends (10). Documentaries shared the third-most referred alternative with 7
responses.
31-40 year-olds marked television, films and documentaries most frequently (all 6
out of 26 responses). All older age groups presented in the survey showed
documentaries powerful influence on the travel decision: in each age group up to
70 years documentaries were most referred to, and amongst ages 71-80 this
dominance was split in two by written articles (both 4 of 13 references).
65 per cent of all respondents said that a form of media had affected their travel
decision. It is important in creating the initial interest and reinforcing it.
Documentaries were the most influential factor to affect the travel decision and

81

being an instrument of education, which, as a motive for dark tourists, is further


emphasised by this result.

10.4 The main reasons for visiting Auschwitz

As predicted on the basis of Stephanie Yuills thesis about the travel motivation of
the visitors to the Houston Holocaust Museum, the survey confirmed the fact that
education and commemoration are the two most important reasons to visit a dark
tourism destination, in particular those in linkage with the Holocaust.
In examining different motives, a Likert-scale was used for the respondents to
evaluate each reason according to its level of importance. The scale was set from
1 to 4, where number 4 stood for very important and 1 for not at all important.
Figure 11. The main reasons for visiting Auschwitz

Getting different experiences

2,5

Curiosity

2,64

Guilt

1,46

Education

3,48

Meeting fears

2,14

Commemoration

3,31
1

Figure 11 shows that Very important or important motives for coming to


Auschwitz were found to be education and commemoration. Education was
considered very important amongst the majority of respondents (see Table 3 in
chapter 10.4.1). Between Little important and Important were Curiosity, Getting
new experiences and Meeting fears. For most visitors, Guilt was Not at all

82

important or only Little important. Guilt was by far the least important reason to
visit Auschwitz with an average of 1,46.
Education and commemoration stood their ground in comparison between
different age groups as well. No remarkable variation according to age or gender
was detectable in any of the tested motives.
Slight variation in levels of importance was expected, however, between the
respondents not connected and those connected to the Holocaust. For those, who
had a personal connection with the Holocaust, evaluated Commemoration and
Meeting fears (averages: Commemoration 3,43; Meeting fears 2,35) a little more
important as motives than those with no connection to the Holocaust.
Interestingly, the analysis showed no difference in importance for motives like
Curiosity and Getting different experiences between the two groups. Similarly,
other motives were evaluated equally important regardless of the connection with
the Holocaust.
Other independently mentioned reasons for coming to Auschwitz were: being a
Jew, general interest, school and occupational motives.

10.4.1 Travel motivations and satisfied needs


In this research, three steps from the Travel Career Needs Ladder were chosen to
be utilized in exploring the dark tourists travel motivation. The three steps that
were considered to be most relevant in exploring the motivation of tourists
visiting Auschwitz were safety and security needs, relationship needs and the need
for self-development. The choice of steps followed the choice of travel motives,
which then were simply placed on the TCL. The travel motives included on these
steps could logically be expected of a visitor at a death camp.
On the contrary, physiological needs were not included in the study because the
visit was considered unlikely to satisfy needs such as resting and relaxing or

83

engaging in exciting physical activities (Pearce 2005: 62). These motives


represent the physiological needs of relaxation and arousal, which cannot be
satisfied in an atmosphere provided by a death camp.
Excluding Self-actualization needs required more consideration, because motives
like meeting fears and guilt can be thought to be both safety needs and selfactualization needs. As described in the TCL, safety needs include, amongst
others, the needs to reduce anxiety and to explain the world. Meeting ones fears
and feelings of guilt can quite reasonably be expected to reduce anxiety. However,
on Pearces list of travel motivations, feeling inner harmony and peace and
understanding more about oneself are defined as self-actualization needs (Pearce
2005: 63). These descriptions too seem to be appropriate consequences of meeting
fears and guilt. Which step on the ladder, then, is the correct one in our case?
Fears that have been caused by a death of a friend or a relative, which in the case
of Auschwitz are probable, may result in high levels of anxiety. Through visiting
the site and possibly the last resting place of that person could bring relief from
those fears and guilt. Because self-actualization is at the top of the ladder, feeling
inner harmony would already require safety needs that have been met. Moreover,
Auschwitz is hardly the place to spark the feeling of flow 14, which is typical of
satisfied needs at the fulfillment needs step. Thus we can conclude that in this
case, meeting ones fears and guilt belong with safety needs, which is a building
block at a lower step of the needs ladder.
With all steps carefully chosen and well founded, the travel motivations can be
placed on the Travel Career Ladder.

14

When a person experiences a flow, he always knows what he is doing and feels well capable,
focused and is not concerned with failure. He is also absorbed in what he is doing so that he often
loses track of time. (Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 111-113)

84

Table 3. Travel motives reflected on steps of the Travel Career Ladder

Step on the
Travel Career
Ladder

Motives tested

Importance
Very much

Self-actualization
Self-development

Relationship
Safety / security

Much

Little

Not at all

Education

61

17

11

Curiosity

23

22

18

17

Experiencing
something different
Commemoration
Meeting fears
Guilt

15

29

14

20

50
11
4
-

23
20
3
-

7
14
17
-

8
31
52
-

Physiological

The table shows the categorization on the TCL of the most important travel
motivations found in the survey: education and commemoration. According to
these, we are able to determine the two most important need categories on the
ladder, which are self-development needs and relationship needs. Satisfying these
needs appears to be the primary source of motivation for visiting Auschwitz. In 15
cases, both education and commemoration were chosen as the most important
reasons for the visit. The following list shows how many main motives (=motives
chosen simultaneously as very much of importance) for visiting Auschwitz the
respondents had.
-

One sole main motive: 36 (of which 22 were education)

Two main motives: 25 (of which 15 were education and


commemoration)

Three main motives: 13

Four main motives: 7

Five main motives: 1

The findings indicate and emphasize the fact that dark tourists very often have
many reasons for traveling. In this survey, 47 of 83 respondents had multiple
motives. In a small number of cases, the main motives corresponded to all three

85

levels of needs presented on the ladder. It is not only several reasons, but also
several needs that the dark tourist seeks to satisfy on his trip.
As visible in Table 3, answers have been dispersed evenly between different levels
of importance for three of the motivations: Curiosity (23-22-18-17), Experiencing
something different (15-29-14-20) and Meeting fears (11-20-14-31). The values of
the three remaining motivations are whether linearly decreasing (Education: 6117-11-3, Commemoration: 50-23-7-8) or increasing (Guilt: 4-3-17-52). Heavy
polarization in the answers would question the validity of using mean as the
mathematical tool for ranking different motivations, as already done in the
previous chapter. In this case, however, it describes well the importance of each
motivation.

10.4.2 Respondents travel careers


As argued in chapter 3.1, peoples motivation changes with their travel
experience. In other words it means that if the dark tourist has visited other dark
tourism destinations before, his motivation will have changed from his first dark
trips. His motivation is also likely to differ from those who have not visited dark
tourism attractions. When the different travel motivations are explored according
to the travel experience -factor, we should be able to see that for those, who have
visited similar destinations in the past, their most important motivation factors can
be seen on a higher step on the ladder. Respectively, for those who come to a dark
tourism destination for the first time, the emphasis is expected to be on a lower
step of the ladder. This scenario is not likely to happen in our case, however. It has
to be borne in mind that if the emphases really were on different steps between the
two groups, it would signify that experience causes drastic changes in travel
motivation. This kind of variation is not expected.
When comparing the different motivations, no substantial variation according to
experience is visible. Nevertheless, differences between individual travel

86

motivations can be found between the groups, particularly with those who have
visited Auschwitz before.

Figure 12. Motivation according to visitors previous experience


4
Been to Auschwitz

3,5
3

Other dark tourism


destinations

2,5
2

No experience

1,5

G
ui
lt

Ed
uc
at
io
n
Di
Cu
ffe
rio
re
si
nt
ty
ex
pe
rie
Co
nc
m
e
m
em
or
at
io
M
n
ee
t in
g
fe
ar
s

As shown in Fig. 12, there are hardly any differences between the groups with
either education or guilt. Education if for all the groups the main reason to visit
Auschwitz, whereas guilt ranks as the least important factor affecting the travel
motivation. For those who have been to Auschwitz before, curiosity (mean 2,2 =
little important) and getting different experiences (1,9) are clearly less important
as travel motives than for those, who have not been to Auschwitz. Similarly,
commemoration (3) is slightly less important for this group of visitors. The
greatest variation can be found with meeting fears as the travel motivation. Here,
for those who have been to Auschwitz, meeting fears is more important a motive
than for those who have not (mean 2,82 = important). For the group of visitors
who have not been to any dark tourism destination before, meeting fears is clearly
the least significant reason of the three groups to visit Auschwitz (mean 2,13 =
little important).
The travel career measurement indicates that there indeed is variation depending
on the dark tourists previous experience. In particular, those who have been to the
same destination before (Auschwitz), give clearly less emphasis to curiosity,
getting different experiences and commemoration as travel motives than those

87

who have no prior experience of the site. The greatest variation between two
groups emerged, when they were compared against the motivation variable
meeting fears. Here those visitors who had no previous dark tourist experience,
scored lowest and the ones who knew the site before, scored highest amongst the
three groups of respondents.

10.4.3 Travel motivation and sensation seeking


When the importance of different travel motivations are correlated with the
tourists sensation-seeking level, only curiosity proves to be significantly related.
Pearsons correlation coefficient for the pair is 0,310, which means medium
correlation between the variables (significance at the 0,01-level). The more
sensation-seeking the person, generally the more important a motive is curiosity.
Sensation seeking did not show any correlation with different emotions
experienced during the visit and a very small negative correlation according to age
(-0,112).
The most closely related items to travel motivation, which were measured in the
questionnaire, are the visitors feelings during the experience. Both of these
sections are also constituent parts in testing the end hypothesis.

10.5 Feelings during the visit


This part of the questionnaire was aimed to find out different emotions that occur
during the visit to the concentration camp and museum of Auschwitz. Again, the
respondents were asked to evaluate each feeling in a list according to a scale from
1 to 4 and also to freely write down if there was something else they felt. The
feelings evaluated were Anxious, Excited, Moved, Afraid, Thrilled, Shocked,
Guilty and Angry. It was also asked how much the respondents could relate to the
suffering of the victims and if they felt pity for them. The averages of each
category are represented in Figure 13. The bar chart is followed by Table 4, which
shows how answers were divided according to intensity of the feeling.

88

Figure 13. Visitor feelings during the visit


Feelings during the visit
4
3

3,57

3,77

3,38

3,04

2,79

2,51

2,18

1,96

1,62

1,52

su
ff

Pi
tif
ul

er
in
g

ng
ry
A

Re
la
te

to

vi
ct
im
s'

G
ui
lty

Sh
oc
ke
d

Th
r

ille
d

ai
d
fr
A

M
ov
ed

ite
d
Ex
c

nx
io
us

Table 4. Dispersion of answers for each tested feeling


Feeling

Anxious

Excited

Moved

Afraid

Thrilled

Shocked

Guilty

Importance
4 Very
__much
3 Much
2 Little
1 Not at _
all

Angr
y

Relating
to
suffering

Pitiful

19

55

13

51

30

33

62

20

7
13

28
3
1

12
21

6
7

5
14

25

29

18
6
7

18
12
17

15
20
5

12
3
0

13
21

21

41

62 out of 77 respondents that answered this category, said to have felt Very much
pity for the victims. An average of 3,77 out of 4 signifies a very strong overall
feeling of pity for the victims of the Holocaust. It is not surprising, because people
are generally well aware of the Holocaust and its consequences; the personal
belongings and many photos of victims portrayed in the museum and descriptions
about the everyday life in the camp make one see the Holocaust at a personal
level. The same reasons also apply to the fact that feeling moved was also very
strongly expressed (average 3,57). At the general exhibition in the former
cellblocks, which is a museum now, there are the little shoes, small dress and
other garments that once belonged to a baby girl, who was murdered by the Nazis.
This type of portrayal adds to the impact one gets from the visit and also describes
the ruthless nature of the Final Solution. This is one efficient way to make the
exposition better depict the reality.

89

Nearly two thirds of the 82 visitors that answered the category, felt very shocked
during the visit. Suffering of the victims had also invoked strong emotions
(average 3,04). Over 70 % of the respondents felt little or much anxious during
their time in Auschwitz. Fear was also experienced, but in most cases, not to a
high degree.
The most important categories in regard of the hypothesis were excitedness and
the feeling of thrill. Both of them were seldom experienced; a degree of
excitedness was experienced by 25 % of the respondents and only 15 % said they
had felt thrilled during the visit. On a general level, both these feelings were little
experienced.
Six respondents felt very much excited during the visit, seven much excited and
13 were little excited. Only three respondents had felt very much thrilled, six
much thrilled and seven little thrilled.
In this section, there was one more area of interest, which offered the options
regarding the respondents feelings about death after the visit.
The questions in this part were:
1. If the respondent is more or less afraid of death
2. If death is experienced as more mysterious or better understandable
3. If the respondent felt more or less interest in visiting similar destinations.
4. If the respondent was calm and relieved, or anxious and nervous after the
visit to the museum.
This part of the questionnaire proved to be the most difficult to
understand/uncomfortable to answer. This is why the respondents, more often than
not, left questions blank or the option I dont know was checked. Of the 26
answers to the first question, 9 said to be more afraid of death after the visit. 17
said they were less afraid. To 13 of 35 respondents considered death as more
mysterious, while 22 thought they after the visit could understand it better.

90

Similarly, 13 of 35 respondents were found to feel calm and relieved after the
visit. The rest, 22 still felt nervous and anxious. The most answered question in
this part of the experience section was if the people were more interested in
visiting similar destinations in the future. 57 out of the 66 said they were, while
only 9 said they were not. Even though most would not describe visiting
Auschwitz as pleasant, the majority got the spark to visit similar places. The
snowball effect15 seems to apply here too: The more you see, the more you are
willing to see.
Different feelings were, alike the travel motivations, also reflected on basis of the
visitors previous experience. Feeling items relevant to travel experience are
excitement, fear, thrill and shock. They can be considered to change following the
experience-factor; the more experience the respondent has, the smaller the feeling
is expected to be. The same grouping was used as with motivations in the previous
chapter: People who have visited Auschwitz, people who have visited other dark
tourism destinations, and people who have not been to either one.
The group that had visited Auschwitz before, proved to be the only one differing
from the overall averages of each measured feeling. They appeared to feel little
less excited, thrilled and shocked during their visit than the two other groups.
They also showed slightly stronger levels of shock. In general, however, the
differences between the feelings and the travel experience are very small and
therefore scientifically insignificant.
Excitedness and feeling of thrill are constituent parts of the arousal level, which in
addition to the level of commemoration are set to test the hypothesis. Two
approaches are used in trying to find respondents who would match the
description in the hypothesis, depending on how strictly individual feelings are
interpreted. The testing criteria and process are explained in detail in the next
chapter.

15

Snowball effect is a figurative term for a process that starts from an initial state of small
significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger and larger. (www.wikipedia.org)

91

10.6 Testing the hypothesis


The aim of this research is to find out why people travel to Auschwitz, and for that
matter, to any other place connected to dying and suffering. The hypothesis that
will be tested in this chapter, is that there is excitement of some sort in the
experience of the dark tourist, which means that it is not solely commemoration,
respect for the past or other ethically pure 16 motive that encourages people to
travel to dark tourism destinations. The hypothesis implies that there are dark
tourists, for whom a major part (main or one of the main motivations) of the travel
motivation is to get mental stimulation and new experience, which is generated by
the extraordinary nature of the destination. The null-hypothesis is, then, that there
are no individuals amongst the respondents who visit the site mainly motivated by
excitement offered by the attraction.
Should the hypothesis prove true, the research will find respondents whose
answers show low levels of ethically pure motives and measurably higher levels
of arousal and excitement. In this study, feeling excited, fearful, thrilled and
shocked are considered as signs of arousal in the broader sense. In the strictest
sense, arousal is limited only to feelings of excitement and thrill.
Two approaches are taken into account because expressions such as excited
thrilled and especially afraid and shocked can be interpreted both as
pleasurable and disturbing emotions. For the hypothesized dark tourist, the
pleasurable interpretation of these words is expected. It is the analysis of travel
motives that distinguishes the potential pleasurable sides from the disturbing ones.
If the respondent came mainly to commemorate the past victims, to meet his/her
fears and/or to learn about the Holocaust, it is due to the frame of mind that he is
likely to interpret the word excited as uneasy rather than something pleasurable.
Similarly being afraid and shocked can be positive expressions. Hence low levels
of pure motives are being used as a filter to distinguish the answers with the
desired interpretation of the words used in the questionnaire. Similarly, all
16

Ethically pure motive, as opposed to dark motives, do not introduce ethical or moral doubt about
the reasons behind the trip.

92

respondents that have experienced the Holocaust by themselves or through


someone else, are filtered out. Quite obviously, they are not thought to be able to
grasp the entertaining side of the visit.
It is acknowledged that fitting human feelings into a scientific framework is not a
simple game of numbers, but a complex task of putting together several factors,
which often require contextual consideration. However, to proceed the analysis,
guidelines are needed and the above-mentioned suppositions can be considered as
indicative at the least.
The four criteria were established to build up a clear, logical sequence to test the
hypothesis. The criteria are based on the authors careful consideration and
reflection on the role, validity and significance of each criterion.
The criteria are as follows:
1. The person must have no personal connection of any kind with the
Holocaust.
2. Commemoration as a travel motive is little important or not at all
important. If this criterion is satisfied, it means that there are other
reasons for the persons visit.
3. Getting different experiences is the main, or one of the main motives.
4. The level of arousal is described as high or very high. Should an
experience be significant and memorable to a person, a strong degree of
emotion is required. In this case, mental arousal is being used as the
indicator.

Figure 14: The Hypothesis Testing Cone

93

Pool of respondents:

Filter:

1.

Original pool of all


103 respondents

1.

Personal Connection

2.

Reduced pool of
respondents with no
connection with the
Holocaust

2.

Low Level of
Commemoration

3.

Pool of remaining
respondents with the
two first criteria
satisfied

3.

Different Experience as
the main or one of the
main motives

4.

II with the three


first criteria satisfied

4.

High Arousal Level

5.

Group of potential
respondents to confirm
the hypothesis

There were 103 respondents in total. There are 79 respondents with no connection
to the Holocaust. As shown in the previous chapter, there were only six persons to
say that they felt very much excited during their visit to Auschwitz. However,
three of them had a very personal connection to the Holocaust through their
families. Even though these cases could be able to pass the other criteria, but they
dont meet the first one, they are excluded in the first phase. This leaves us 79
cases to proceed with.
Of the reduced pool of respondents, we now exclude all whose Commemoration
as a travel motive is other than not at all important or little important. Because
Commemoration is the second most important reason on average, at this stage a
majority of cases is excluded.
The number of cases left for third stage is 13. Now the remaining respondents are
expected evaluate Getting different experience as the main, or one of the main
motives. As discussed in chapter 2.1, people usually have multiple reasons for
travelling. Educative elements are often an inherent part of a visit, especially in
the darkest of dark tourism destinations. So even though the tourist has come for
the excitement of the experience, education may also be considered important. If
the desire to get new experiences is given much or very much importance, the

94

case proceeds to stage four. Other cases are dropped from the final stage. Even
though 43 respondents saw getting different experiences as one of the main
motives, only five of them passed the two earlier criteria.
The last test is Arousal level, which consists of the average levels or thrill and
excitedness. The Arousal level is calculated in two ways. Firstly, by counting the
average of excitedness, thrill and shock and fear, and secondly by excluding the
two latter factors. In both cases, the figure has to be higher than 2,5 in the scale
from 1 to 4, meaning high to very high levels of arousal, and it also has to score
higher than the average Arousal level. In the case of Polish respondents, because
of these measures of thrill and excitement had to be removed and were replaced
with a single entry, morbid curiosity, this stage is passed if the Polish respondent
had felt much or very much morbid curiosity.
If at least one respondent survives the tests at the fourth stage, the hypothesis is
considered confirmed. If there are no respondents that pass all four criteria, the
hypothesis in the case of Auschwitz is disproved.

10.7 The verdict


One (1) respondent passed the Arousal level stage test, where the respondent is
considered to regard shock and fear as pleasurable, stimulating emotions. The
same one (1) respondent (non-Polish) passed all four criteria, including both the
broad- and the strictest approach to the Arousal level -test.
We cannot proclaim that a new theory has been established or that the hypothesis
has been fully confirmed. One respondent out of 103 does not support inductions
that would cover all tourists, not to mention the generalizations in even larger
scales. The possibility that this one respondent is a mere coincidence cannot be
ruled out. On the other hand, since the sample consisted of only a little more than
one hundred respondents, the number of the hypothesised dark tourists was
expected to be at this level. Particularly in a place like Auschwitz, where respect

95

and thoughtfulness are expected, many may not be willing to reveal their ultimate
motives and feelings.

10.8 Authors notes on the test results

In the course of filtering the answers, there were some respondents who had not
answered when they were asked to evaluate the importance of getting new
experiences or their excitedness. In these cases, it was impossible to make
comparisons and so they could not be further analyzed. Why they didnt answer
the questions can have many reasons; perhaps just because they did not want to.
Fortunately most cases were valid so they could be put into the Testing Cone.
What do the test results actually mean? They point out, first of all, that people
travel to dark tourism destinations for various motives and various underlying
expectations whether they are said out loud or not. Some come only to
commemorate, perhaps their past relatives, while others come to learn about our
past. Other people come to these destinations because they are much different
from others and so offer an exciting environment. This study doesnt prove the
existence of such travellers who travel to destinations of death with getting kicks
as the main and sole motive. But it does prove that there are travellers amongst
dark tourists for whom the excitement of being at the site is a significant factor in
their experience and in their travel motivation.

10.9 Visitors views on the visit to Auschwitz

96

Some of the respondents felt the need to share their feelings further in the open
space left for comments. Most visitors had nothing to say, but still tens of
comments were written down to express anxiety, concern and hope.
Overall, most respondents were happy to have visited the museum, albeit it was
very seldom described as pleasant. Shock appeared to be most frequently
expressed amongst the visitors. The fact that genocides have taken place after the
Holocaust made most of the respondents feel sad; the world has learned nothing
and we never learn were often noted. Equally many felt disappointed, some
even disgusted with human beings for the same reason.
Others felt a little more hopeful: Visiting the museum was considered important
for everyone in order to prevent such events from happening again. The
establishment of the museum and the acts of management in running the museum
gladdened some respondents. It was considered very important that all world
knew what happened in Auschwitz.
Many visitors were appalled by the cruelty of man; they could not imagine how
people could do such horrible things to each other. One noted: It is necessary to
make people aware of the human nature. In others, the visit did not induce such
deep contemplation. In most cases the visit was thought to be a powerful
experience, shocking, saddening or otherwise. One respondent wrote: I
thoroughly enjoyed my experience and Im very happy that I am able to see how
the camp was run. This is a very different experience and will undoubtedly be one
occurrence that I will never forget.
For many, describing their emotions seemed to be difficult. Some had nothing to
say, while others started to contemplate their lives, questioning the human nature
or pondering upon the destiny of human race. The visit to Auschwitz is obviously
a powerful experience, for it has proved capable of raising many different
reactions and emotions in the visitor. It also appears to strengthen the feeling of
togetherness between people and as such gives the visit inherent value.

97

98

11 Dark tourism: lessons and moral


Even though many atrocities inflicted upon people may be geographically and
chronologically very distant to us, it is important to remember that the victims of
such events were ordinary people like you and me, with lives not much different
from ours.
History repeats itself, they say. In case of colossal human tragedies it is our joint
mission to prevent this prophecy from recurring. No matter how far away these
events are, it is the task of every human being to cultivate understanding and
tolerance for fellow humans in the time we are living in now. Moreover, our task
is to stand up at times when movements with destructive ideologies are increasing
in power. They have been proven to be dysfunctional, yet their allure draws many
people along still today. Also, when societies run into difficulties, people have
historically been prone to seek for help with radical movements. Hence we have
to make sure that in the future, we glance every now and then at our past to
remind us about the path not to be taken.

11.1 Education
Learning from, or better, recognizing our past is a crucial element in realizing a
world free of genocide. Dark tourism destinations see to this mission from their
part through making it possible for millions of people to see how the atrocities of
the past came into being. It is this aspect of dark tourism that is remarkably
significant in creating our future.
It cannot be expected that all dark tourists travel to the sites for education, and this
is not the case either. Whether they come to see and experience an extraordinary
attraction or to get entertained in a dungeon, the educational element is imposed
on them all the same. This may cause other people to change their views and
fundamental perceptions, while others leave it without deeper consideration.

99

There has been discussion about how different dark tourism sites and products are
presented to the public. The question is: whose history is the one that prevails, as
total objectivity is not possible to achieve? Particularly the commercialization of
dark tourism sites and products has been a hot topic. Lennon & Foley refer to the
example where agencies offer last journeys, for instance that of JFK in Dallas
and Princess Diana in Paris, when they say that the big issue is the anxiety and
doubt about the commodification of the journeys. (Foley & Lennon: 165) Is this
cashing in on death, where money comes first and the memory of the dead
second? The promising market prospects are there, just waiting to be exploited.
Should they be exploited or should the celebrities be finally left in peace?
Ethical discussion continues to revolve around Dark Tourism, as attractions try to
find harmony between education and commemoration on one side and
moneymaking and entertainment on the other. The role of the dark tourist as the
conductor of the opera is not easy either; they are often questioned about their
morale.

11.2 Dark tourists and moral


Mental stimulation in form of excitement on a site of atrocity is something that is
not easily spoken of, because it is sensitive and often not consciously sought after.
Therefore it is also difficult to measure in scientific terms. Some may like the
shock, some can be fond of the proximity of death, and some perhaps just enjoy
the different experience. Enjoying varying emotions at a site of death is generally
judged as morbid and disgusting, even more so ignorant, rude and disrespectful.
When a dark tourist is addressed directly face-to-face the question why he visits a
genocide museum for example, the answer is likely to be just for remembrance
and education purposes due to the fact that not many want to share or even know
the real reasons. It is better to give a generally acceptable reason, rather than one
that could insult others or make them sceptical about your motives.

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It could be argued that the dark side of pleasure amongst the dark tourists can
mainly be found amongst those who have no direct connection to the happening.
Should you have had grandparents, sisters or brothers at the concentration camp,
the way you see the suffering is personal and realistic. Through a very personal
connection, an emotional bridge is established between the observer and the site,
where the past event is being represented. In this way, the event and people in it
regain their realistic, humane features and the visit can no longer be regarded
solely as an experience. This is to signify that, in the case of an observer who
has no first-hand connection to the event, there needs to be a middleman in order
for the dark tourist to grasp the reality of a destination.
But to an innocent bystander, there may be enjoyment in meeting death. To him,
death is mysterious, scary and exciting. It can also feel calming. But it is the death
of someone elses loved one, child or friend that is being represented and
consumed. Nevertheless, if the victims are not familiar, they are just sad faces
who met a terrible fate, but which dont really belong in our reality.
And indeed, they have been only sad faces and outcasts of the society for the
perpetrators too. As Edward Kissi stated in the documentary about Auschwitz:
Jews were represented to the German public as venom or lice and in Rwanda -the Tutsi victims were constructed as cockroaches and snakes. Without degrading
the victims to sub-humans or to animal level, a massacre or genocide in such an
extent would not be possible. (BBC 2005: Auschwitz Inside the Nazi State) To
any other than the perpetrators, these people can easily seem like sad faces.
The innocence of the experience-seeking dark tourists must be recognized: they
mean no harm and probably are aware of what has happened, but the site just
satisfies their curiosity and hunger for experience. The lesson of history is not the
most important reason to visit the place for all tourists. Should it be? Is there a
correct way to think about the Holocaust? It is advised to pay respect to the site
during the visit in Auschwitz; maybe this is basically the same thing as a

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behaviour code at a dark tourism site. The dark tourism consumer is faced with an
ethical dilemma: how to actually relate to what is seen?
What can make the dark tourists interest seem insensitive is the fact that without
a link to the suffering side of the event, it may be difficult to relate to the human
side of suffering at the site of death. Is such compassion toward people we dont
know even necessary? Is there an ethical norm that obliges us to dig out the
empathy in us and show it when we visit cemeteries, for example? Everyone
experiences grief, sorrow as well as happiness and joy very individually. Being at
a funeral of someone close, it is still not mandatory to cry. One cries if one
authentically feels so. Should tourists, then, make themselves contemplate death
and the dark history in a certain way when they visit dark attractions, even if that
wasnt their normal reaction? A simple truth is that no one can force tourists to
study history after visiting a destination or demand them to think in a way that
would match desired attitudes and views of the past. But, there is a danger to it.
Lets presume the following: We indulge in the thrill of meeting death and pay
little attention to the actual event the dark tourism site or exposition represents.
Now the attributes of wrong and evil are fading and the experience is seems
more like a form entertainment. The past atrocity or its reasons are not recognized,
and therefore no longer understood. We just stand there as witnesses. Now, how
far are we from those people who stood witness as trains transported innocent
people to the extermination camps in 1940s and did nothing about it? Some knew
what was going on, some only had a faint idea, but only a tiny fraction of them
acted upon it.
The reality of an atrocity is not always easily visible and the sad thing is that we
dont always even try to see it. If we ignore how immeasurably wrong things have
gone in the past, how could we promise it all wont happen again? And, in fact, it
has already. Auschwitz was supposed to be the last genocide. Then came the
Cambodian genocide thirty years later, then one in Rwanda in 1994, then the one
in Sudan, which is still happening as this work is being written. Can we be sure

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this is the last one? As the matter of fact, the events in Sudan today could be seen
as the trains taking people to extermination camps sixty years back. Only time,
place and methods are different. Why arent we stopping them? It is the lack of
feeling of togetherness that is characteristic of each similar event. And if we dont
pay attention to the teachings of the past, the same things may be happening near
our home without us noticing it.
It is presumably this kind of extreme ignorance of history and lack of empathy
that is meant by morbid curiosity that dark tourists are blamed for. People have
died, and it is all right to visit their graves for the kicks of it. No need for
contemplation, the tourists never knew the victims anyway. Nonetheless, there is
another side to the story, too.
Tourism and also dark tourism attractions often intend to make their visitors to
learn about the historical events they represent, and so the tourists will be
subjected to elements of education. This is why even for the dark tourist who is
uninterested in history, travelling to such destinations will result in better
understanding of the past. For some, the main reason to travel may well be the
compulsive fascination of death met at the attraction, but as we have learned, most
dark attractions simultaneously carry the element of education; they give us
lessons in history.

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12 Conclusions
In the beginning of the study about Dark Tourism it was difficult to realize how
complex and also sensitive a topic was being addressed. All along, the main
interest was with the driving force of the whole phenomenon: the dark tourists
travel motivation. The second most central study subject was what the dark
tourists actually felt at dark tourism sites. All in all, the findings showed that dark
tourism is a somewhat normal social phenomenon, which challenges the image we
hold about death in the society. It uncovers the reality and brutality of life.
Dark tourism educates, excites, moves and shocks us. It is a part of the tourism
sphere and also has an important task in the society. It can also bring us to big
ethical questions. We found in this work many different travel motivations to
explain the driving force of dark tourism. The main catalysts were by far learning
about the past and the Holocaust and commemoration of the victims. It was also
found that people travel often not for one purpose, but for many reasons at the
same time. This is why the dark side of man in the sense of ignorant dark tourists
who seek solely thrills in places of death was not discovered. Many came to get
different experiences, but no one as the most important single factor. We found
that in addition to many travel motives, people also have greatly different feelings
during the visit, ranging from shock to pleasurable excitement.
Dark tourists seldom think of themselves as dark tourists; they are just travelers
who go to a place for one reason, a number reasons, or for no particular reason at
all. Before the trip, few would prepare learning objectives or fundamental goals to
be achieved. Some dark tourists might travel because they have a specialist
interest in a certain field, warfare for example, but often there is a door left open
for unexpected experiences and emotions: few know exactly what they are going
for.
It is the visits themselves that may encourage the tourists reflect more upon their
motives or even to make them doubt their own reasons to be on the site. Stories

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from friends, documentaries on television and numerous references to destruction,


suffering and dying presented everywhere in media, it is not surprising there is so
much interest in death and the dark. After all, death is no longer a natural part of
life; it has been pushed further and further away and finally out of sight. Seeing
death in everyday life is rare, and rarities, as well as any anomalies raise peoples
inborn curiosity. Curiosity drives people to explore, sometimes even without
particular goals or objectives.
Dark tourism, in common language, means people visiting sites connected to
death and sites where people have actually died. As seen in chapter 4.4, Varying
definitions, social sciences are more demanding in defining it, because they try to
classify, measure and study the phenomenon. Things like commercialization of
death and intimidation of the society are often called for; also time limits are set to
when the dark tourism phenomenon first started. Nevertheless, defining dark
tourism as done above is enough to create an understanding of what it is all about.
In this common sense of the term, dark tourism is not of a recent origin; it is a
phenomenon that is rooted far in the past. It seems to occur regardless of the era,
advancement of the society, culture or even religion. Traces of dark tourism seem
to lead back to the dark tourists themselves; there is something about death and
suffering that fascinates people time and again.
Dark tourism is driven amongst other reasons by the curiosity of man in the
dark side of life, not the other way round. It is not the dark side, or evil of man
that pushes tourists to meet death, but the unusual nature of dark tourism sites that
draws people there. This is why the dark nature of travel motivation could be
questioned, because it gives rise to ethical problems that may not have anything to
do with the phenomenon itself. Perhaps these ethical and moral problems stem
from just the fact we are not able to handle death anymore. This can be the reason
why we announce gazing at death as morbid and constantly question the dark
tourists moral; it is an easy way to push the question away from ourselves.

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In places where death can still be seen today, it has been beautified so people
could face the problematic issue better. But even sanitized presentations of death,
offered by dark tourism attractions for example, are not free of controversy. Ethics
is put on the line on how history should be presented and through questioning
dark travelers moral purity. Death has been for long, and it is more now than ever,
an uncomfortable topic. Dark tourism just brings it dangerously close.
Death plays a natural part in the circle of life. After the end there is a new
beginning. In the Western world especially, this view has been strongly distorted.
Live as much and as fast as you can is the motto describing modern purpose of
life. Dying does not belong in it. And yet, whichever way you look at it, death is
so apparent and inevitable to us all.
Dark tourism is an intriguing field of study requiring much more research.
Specific studies, devoted solely to dark tourists motivation in different types of
dark tourism destinations are recommended as future research, because in this
study, travel motivation was measured only at one such destination.
Dark tourism could be described as the act of opening a window into the history
of mankind, which, alike the phenomenon itself, comes in several shades of the
dark.

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41. Stone, P.R (2006) A dark tourism spectrum: Towards a typology of death
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Thesis
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Documentary film
43. Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State A KCET/BBC co-production. 2005
Community Television of Southern California (KCET).
Field trips
44. Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oswiecim, Poland. Date
visited: 18-20 October 2006.
45. Nhom Penh genocide museum (Tuol Seng) and The Killing Fields,
Cambodia. Date visited: May 22 2006.
46. Phuket and the Krabi province, Thailand. Date visited: 13-15 April 2006.
47. The River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanabury, Thailand. Date visited: 26 March
2006.

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APPENDICES
Appendix 1. The Tourism Phenomenon
Appendix 2. The Questionnaire in English
Appendix 3. The Questionnaire in German
Appendix 4. The Questionnaire in Polish

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