Dark tourism motivations : an investigation into the motivations of visitors to sites associated with dark tourism

Robinson, N 2015, Dark tourism motivations : an investigation into the motivations of visitors to sites associated with dark tourism , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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In recent years the notion of tourists visiting sites associated with death and destruction has started to receive much attention within the associated literature, with issues coupled with visitor motivations being key to this research. The genre that probably best describes the study of this subject matter (death and destruction) is ‘dark tourism’. Lennon & Foley (1996, p200) describe this as “the phenomenon which encompasses the presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites”. The identification of those factors that guide the selection of such dark sites and a review of visitor’s on-site experiences and subsequent post visit behaviour is important and requires further attention. The main aim of this study is to better understand the motivations and on-site activities of visitors to contemporary dark tourism sites. In addition the methods associated with archiving the visit in terms of souvenir hunting, photography and other related actions will be investigated. From what is evidenced in the literature, it is clear to see that many of these dark locations can be broadly classified as ‘dark shrines’ (Stone, 2006); but there has been little empirical investigation relating to visitor motivations and behaviour of visitors whilst at these sites. The empirical data was collected using qualitative methods, primarily Means-End Chain (MEC) analysis was employed. This is a qualitative methodological tool, employing a semi-structured one on one interview style. Fourteen interviews in total were used from individuals who had visited dark sites and the data was analysed using the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS). The results suggest that the main motivations for visiting those sites that are deemed lighter on the dark spectrum were associated with entertainment, family fun and some learning, with much emphasis upon showcasing the experience to peers upon their return home. In contrast the motivations for visiting dark sites such as concentration camps and camps of mass genocide tended to be more empathetic with the victims, with issues associated with education and intellectual enquiry being fundamental to the visit. Issues associated with peer recognition as a result of the visit were not deemed as important for those visiting darker sites. In conclusion the research shows that visitors to the lighter sites tend to be informed by family and loved ones with emphasis upon enjoyment and family kinship. In contract those who visit the darker sites tended to be more interested in the educational and academic overtones associated with the site, with a keen interest in history further facilitating this need. The main contribution of this research relates to the differing needs as identified by light and dark visitors whist at site. Visitors at lighter sites tend to require more operational based information associated with facilities and merchandising provision, whereas visitors to darker sites require information that is geo-political and quasi academic in nature, so as to better understand the magnitude of the atrocities. In terms of the manner by which light and dark visitors go about collecting artefacts / souvenirs this also differs greatly with lighter visitors looking for commercially produced items to take home and take picture of family members in situ. In contrast visitors to darker sites choose to collect souvenirs at site which are often items of nature associated specifically with the sight. Picture taking is limited, but when used is associated with the site and the surroundings.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Themes: Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Funders: University of Salford
Depositing User: N Robinson
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2016 14:58
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:21
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/36776

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