Travel to sites of death and destruction is not a new concept. It is however, a phenomenon that has in recent years emerged as a clearly identifiable tourism product from a supply perspective and a growing tourism trend throughout the world. An element of human nature is this fascination with death and disaster, which has been catered for through the emergence of tourism sites associated with death, disaster and destruction. Today, many places of death and disaster attract millions of tourists from around the world such as Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam, Ground Zero in New York, Arlington National Cemetery and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa to name but a few. This paper seeks to establish an understanding of the concept of dark tourism and its growth throughout the world. It will then assess the role of dark tourism in a Polish context with a particular emphasis on Auschwitz – Birkenau (a German World War 2 concentration camp). The empirical research for this paper seeks to develop a profile of visitors to Auschwitz and examine the key motivations of visitors. A triangulation approach was adopted incorporating qualitative focus groups and a questionnaire survey in order to identify the motivations of visitors to this site. It emerged that education, curiosity and remembrance were the dominant motivations of visitors while almost all expressed the emotional impact of the visit.
Ward, Aisling and Stessel, Agnieszka
"Dark tourism: An assessment of the motivations of visitors to Auschwitz – Birkenau, Poland,"
Irish Business Journal: Vol. 7:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/irishbusinessjournal/vol7/iss1/3