21Mar/12

A fine line – Dark Tourism …

Sure Maritime Travel are always looking for new trends. Dark Tourism is a recent one that is generating a lot of interest in various cities around the world and we thought you would like to find out a little more about this facinating concept!

 

You may be a dark tourist and not even realise it!  Sunsets and beaches are natural holiday destination photographs, but interest in sites of death or disaster are interesting in themselves and often generate genuine interest and support from people who visit them.

From ground zero in New York and Katrina’s destructive force in New Orleans to the  Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and the Killing Fields in Cambodia,  witnessing places where horrific deaths have occurred has for many become an  integral part of experiencing a destination.
The latest such disaster is the deadly Jan. 13 Costa Concordia accident off the  coast of the Italian island of Giglio, where the partially submerged vessel  remains. So far, operators who offer Italy say they have seen no demand for travel to  Giglio, although Italian news outlets report that Tuscany tourism officials are  encouraging travelers to visit the island as a “gesture of love” to  help counter what they fear will be a drop-off in tourism following the  incident.  That plea, coupled with the dramatic image of the Concordia resting on its side on a reef, raises the question of whether people will actually want to visit Giglio just to see the stricken vessel with their own eyes. “Reports of tourists making excursions to see the stricken vessel suggest  the spot of the disaster is likely to become a ‘dark tourism’ destination,” Philip Stone, executive director of the Institute for Dark Tourism Research at the U.K.’s University of Central Lancashire, wrote in a Jan. 22 article for the Huffington Post.

By the end of 2011, just three-and-a-half months after it opened to the public, the 9/11
Memorial had already welcomed more than 1 million visitors, according to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the nonprofit that oversees operation of the memorial and museum at the World Trade Center. In the first weeks and months after the 2001 attack, crowds would gather at the site in shocked silence to witness the destruction and cleanup efforts. For the remainder of the next decade, visitors clandestinely watched as a gigantic hole, in the ground and it the country’s psyche, was slowly transformed by concrete and workers.

“For 10 years, people were only able to walk the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, stealing glances at the progress through construction fences,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said in a statement.  Arguably, the 9/11 Memorial site now gives visitors a way to properly and meaningfully engage with the emotional ravages of terrorism. To that end, it joins memorials around the world built to honor victims of violence and, in a very real sense, to offer visitors an experience that is both educational and cathartic.

In 2011, 1.4 million people from all over the globe visited the former Nazi concentration
and extermination camp at Auschwitz, a record figure for the memorial, which
has been open for 65 years.
“Auschwitz is to the world the symbol of the atrocities and the total, mass extermination of the Jews in gas chambers, carried out by Germans,” Piotr Cywinski, director of the Memorial and Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, said in a statement about the 2011 visitor numbers. A visit to the site is “not only a history lesson but also a lesson in responsibility resulting from
memory.”

A year after the tsunami that ravaged Japan on March 11, 2011, travel companies and tour
operators are promoting travel to the island-nation as a crucial component in Japan’s recovery. For example, Travcoa recently partnered with the Japan National Tourism Organization to introduce a promotion intended to stimulate travel to Japan.
Call it disaster tourism or just routine tourism recovery efforts, but when calamitous death and destruction are involved, the urge to develop travel products goes beyond mere business.

Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, said it derives from a certain
sense of duty to the destination. Beyond mere voluntourism, Upchurch cited the
vital role the travel industry plays in bringing tourists and tourism dollars
back to crisis-stricken destinations at a time when they most need the help.

 



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