I've been studied and read about dark tourism and I've finished the literature review for the proposal research. (Not for the dissertation...of course). Just like the name of the tourism,-'Dark', this subject made me feel so dark. Because the more I know, the more getting difficult. First I would like to say I will focus on battlefield tourism studies rather than general dark tourism studies.
Dark tourism is not a new phenomenon. In 1996, Lennon and Foley coined the term of dark tourism and so -called dark tourism is being energetically studied and it has become a buzz term within the tourism indusrty.
In 1996, Tony Seaton (A.V Seaton) also coined the term of thanatourism. Well, actually 'Thanatourism' and 'Dark tourism' first introduced in the same academic journal, same issues.- 'International Journal of Heritage Studies'. I don't know the intention of the publisher or the tourism academia. However, the tourism academia uses both terms to explain about the tourism to travel to the sites associated with death, horror and atrocity.
So what is the dark tourism and thanatourism? How different between thanatourism and dark tourism?
The answer is the depend on who defines these terms.
According to Lennon and Foley (2000), they argue that dark tourism is an indication of post modernity. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, interest in death, disaster and atrocity have grown in the tourism industry, with anxieties and doubts toward bringing tourism objectives of modernity. Dark tourism needs to be connected with present experiences and seen by consumers without the matter of chronological distance.
However, Seaton (1999) coins the term of ‘Thanatourism’, which is travel to sites entirely or partly motivated by the sense of death. He classifies different types of Thanatourism depending on tourists’ motivations and behavior.
There are two big arguments and issues in the definition of dark tourism which is coined by Lennon and Foley.
1. They choose the event of Titanic sink in 1912 as a dark tourism starting point point.
2. They do not qualify the battlefield as a dark tourism product because they argue battlefield events did not take in our living memory and so are less relevant.
However, the journey to battelfield is the main thanatourism product and Seaton discusses that the phenomenon of travel to sites associated with death and disaster goes back to the middle ages.
In my opinion, due to those arguements and disagrements, so-called dark tourism is being energetically studied. And the tourism academic and researchers have been stidied to find out the reason to the journey to the death sites.
Dark tourism or thanatourism have too broad meaning and definition. Before the term of dark or thanatourism used, the other terms used such as horror tourism (Tunbridge and Ashworth, 1996), terror tourism (Sunday times, 1997) and ghost tourism! Dark and thana tourism also can be broken down into cemetery tourism, grief tourism, prison tourism, holocaust tourism, battlefield tourism and genocide tourism.
Also recent researches seems to study to more specific themes.
I am researching the sites where Irish rebellion (Easter Rising) occured and the learders of rebel were executed by British soldiers as dark tourism attractions. I am trying to find out tourists motivations the trip to the death site.
Dark tourism is too broad !! Therefore I will focus on battelfield tourism rather than general dark tourism.