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Essay about Dark Tourism

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Dark Tourism is defined by Foley and Lennon (2000) as "the phenomenon which encompasses the presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites." Tarlow (2005, Pg 48) ascertains that it is "visitations to places where tragedies or historically noteworthy death has occurred and that continue to impact our lives." Dark Tourism is a relatively new term to academic research so at these early stages it is still not well-defined. The two most scholarly definitions I have included are still loose and slightly vague, although these interpretations have increased debate and research into this area.

Another title for this type of tourism is Grief Tourism. These two descriptions are often used interchangeably which makes it difficult to differentiate them for one another because they are so similar. One final word used for this type of travel is Thanatourism, from the Greek word Thanatos, the Ancient Greek personification of death. To make this subject even more confusing for individuals who are interested in learning more about the topic, there are various types of Dark Tourism such as Disaster Tourism which encompasses areas that have suffered from natural disasters rather than man-made ones. New Orleans and the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina would fall into this category. Even though it appears to be a broad umbrella term its underlying meaning is clear.

The term Dark Tourism according to Sharpley (2009, Pg 6) provides us with a juxtaposition. By this he means that the noun tourism connotes thoughts of relaxation and fun-filled beach holidays but placing the adjective dark alongside it gives it a completely new meaning and one which Sharpley believes grabs the audience’s attention. ...


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...how lucrative Dark Tourism and more importantly War Tourism can be.

This brings me to my next chapter which will be focused on Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland. As I mentioned in my introduction it is a city that has been plagued by war for decades and this long period of unrest has now become known the world round as The Troubles. In the 1960s and 1970s the divides in Belfast were clear for all to see. It is believed that The Troubles officially took hold in 1968 at a march for the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association when riots broke out between Catholic and Protestant communities. For decades Paramilitary groups have operated on both sides of the sectarian divide and tension between the two religions still exists today. For this reason tourists visit Belfast in order to understand the turmoil and devastation that this local war has caused.



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