Black Tourism

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Black tourism a possible definition

The black tourism or dark tourism also known as pain tourism comes from the anglicisms black tourism, dark tourism and grief tourism , is a unique mode of tourism that aims to travel to sites associated with death and tragedy including especially sites where there have been violent deaths.It is important to note that the importance of these places is not due exclusively to the specific relationship with death and suffering, but mainly to their historical value or memory tourism.



When almost every corner of the world has been discovered, people look for strong impressions and unusual experiences. Some call them eccentrics, others say they are unethical. Dark attractions ” have become a way of spending free time and another branch of dynamic tourism development. Planning trips to places where a bomb went off or a passenger plane crashed is the new fashion. Is black tourism a bad thing?

Horror, esotericism and all areas of life associated with mystery, the past and mystery are very popular today. Stress and the need to eyewitness pain and hysteria have become a feature of new generations. The tourism sector is so flexible that it can afford to adapt to these new trends. Today, it is not enough to climb mountains or walk through dark caves. We need extra, strong emotions. Fear is an inseparable element of human nature, so the exhibitionism of content in some tourist attractions is increasingly interesting for seekers of strange or unusual places.


 Masacre de Nankín en China
Nanking Massacre in China

Black tourism includes castles and battlefields such as in Scotland the Battle of Culloden and the castles of Bran and Poenari in Romania, natural and man-made disaster sites such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Ground Zero in New York.


Prisons such as Auschwitz in Poland, the Karosta prison in Latvia, prisons now open to the public such as Beaumaris, in Wales and tourist attractions built for that purpose such as London Dungeon in London. Other sites where human atrocities and genocides occurred are also included, such as the Nanjing Massacre Monument in China and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Crimes Museum in Cambodia.

turismo oscuro

Black tourism morbid or historical interest ?

Black tourism is a phenomenon that begins to be observed methodically when the term was used by professors John Lennon and Malcolm Foley of the Scottish University of Glasgow. These two professors have analyzed both recent and ancient sites related to the death and pain that attract these new tourists. They have tried to explain people’s motivation for visiting these places. Dr Philip Stone, a professor at the University of Central Lancashire, is another person currently studying this subject.


He has written several publications and given different interpretations, trying to determine the moral and social effects of dark tourism , determining why people decide to visit together these places associated with pain and death. Stone has also stated that black tourism represents a way of not forgetting, from which one can deduce a part of morality that one wants to communicate.

Museo de los Crímenes Genocidas de Tuol Sleng
Tuol Sleng Genocide Crimes Museum Cambodia

Black tourism has been seen as a form of economic development. Entrepreneurs can use the emotional reactions of visitors to generate profits. Trafficking in areas such as New York’s “Ground Zero” allows for the reactivation of commercial activity related to dark tourism. in this section of black tourism we must also include haunted houses, museums dedicated to serial killers, and abandoned places that eventually become terrifying sites.

The dark or black or terror tourism becomes a process by which the traveler or black tourist faces his own death through the death of another. death is not present daily in our modern cultures, in fact we live more and more, by thello this approach is a kind of exploration into the inevitable. we will all die, which makes this type of tourism and this “special tourist” exorcist of their own fears and horrors, a dark journey that is a real catharsis.

Dark tourism can provide important economic support for communities that have just suffered a tragedy such as Hurricane Katrina in the USA and the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in 2004. Another positive function is that dark tourism is a very important transmitter of history especially in war conflicts, creating empathy with the victims, whatever their origin.

Of course, pain tourism has its variants and includes sites and places not as violent as jails, cemeteries or bizarre museums. For example, in South Korea the Okpo Land, located on the outskirts of the city of Okpo-dong, invites visitors to tour a terrifying abandoned amusement park or in Romania Bran Castle, where Vlad lived Țepeș the Empaler, located in Transylvania, takes tourists to know the place where Dracula was inspired.


Black Tourism Destinations